Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Réalité et Imaginaire Dans le 'Tristan' De Béroul

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Réalité et Imaginaire Dans le 'Tristan' De Béroul

Article excerpt

Jacques Chocheyras, Réalité et imaginaire dans le 'Tristan' de Béroul, Essais sur le Moyen Age 49 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2011). 159 pp.; 5 illustrations. ISBN 978-2-745 3-2049-0. euro40.00.

Réalité et imaginaire dans le 'Tristan' de Béroul is a collection of thirteen articles previously published by Jacques Chocheyras. The tide is somewhat misleading: readers who seek a concentrated focus on Béroul can find themselves at times led far afield; meanwhile scholars of French and Anglo-Norman literature of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, whose interests may only tangentially concern the Tristan legend, will find much to savour here.

In his introduction, Chocheyras posits that Béroul is a realist who can be considered the first modern author. He contends that his Tristan is unique in medieval romance and that it is probably the first work in French literature worthy of being called 'roman' (romance) (p. 9). Chocheyras teases us with these claims, without consistently addressing them in the chapters that follow. The book is not driven by a cohesive argument, but rather spun around an interest in the creation and meaning of Béroul's Tristan, Although full of fascinating analyses, the book leaves the reader hanging and would have greatly benefited from a conclusion to pull together its myriad observations. Though loosely packaged, this book is nonetheless a valuable gift. In the articles collected here, Chocheyras shares decades of discoveries and a deep familiarity with this text and with medieval French language and literature. He offers close readings that draw from a substantial, solid foundation of knowledge - the fruit of years of study.

The book is divided into two parts: first, research into the poet Béroul; second, the meaning of the Tristan story according to Befoul. Chocheyras roots his exceptionally strong linguistic, etymological, and semantic studies in meticulous analyses of language and references - from the word 'boron' (pp. …

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