Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Heroes of the French Epic: A Selection from the Chansons De Geste

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Heroes of the French Epic: A Selection from the Chansons De Geste

Article excerpt

Heroes of the French Epic: A Selection from the Chansons de geste, trans. Michael Newth (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2005). xvi + 697 pp.; 2 maps. ISBN 1-84383-147-3. £25.00.

This volume gathers the translations from medieval French into English of six chansons de geste: Gormont and Isembart, The Song of William, Charlemagne's Pilgrimage, Raoul of Cambrai, Girart of Vienne, and The Knights of Narbonne, This selection is well chosen, as it gives a good idea of the range of style and narrative represented in the chanson de geste, and includes uncontested masterpieces of the genre. Each text is preceded by a brief introduction presenting its main characters and historical context, its artistic achievement, possible sources and influences, and the translation principles adopted. A (very) general introduction to the genre is provided in the preface, which also includes two maps showing where the events recounted in the narratives take place, and a short bibliographical section provides guidance for further reading. Newth has chosen to echo the formal characteristics of each text, i.e. assonanced laisses and lines of eight, ten, or twelve syllables, as the case may be. …

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