Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Wace; Roman De Brut, a History of the British: Text and Translation

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Wace; Roman De Brut, a History of the British: Text and Translation

Article excerpt

Wace; Roman de Brut, a History of the British: Text and Translation, ed. and trans. Judith Weiss, Exeter Medieval English Texts and Studies (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1999). xxix + 385 pp. ISBN 0-85989-591-2. L16.99.

Having already won her spurs for her elegant translation of four AngloNorman romances (The Birth of Romance, 1992), Judith Weiss now enters the lists against the truly formidable opposition of Wace and the 15,000 or so octosyllables of his monumental Roman de Brut (1155). She ventures intrepidly where others before her have lacked the courage, or the staying power, to tread, and sets out for the first time to make available to contemporary English readers Wace's poetic reworking of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britanniae. Though he was, of course, a literary pioneer, Wace was actually following in the footsteps of the trilingual Anglo-Norman Geffrei Gaimar, whose Estoire des Engleis dates from 1136-7. He was, however, undoubtedly the most influential of a series of twelfth-century vernacular vulgarizers who helped open up access to Latin culture for an intellectually curious and increasingly sophisticated francophone laity. He was also to provide La3amon with his source text. Weiss emerges from her encounter with Wace if not in unqualified triumph, then at least with colours still flying. Her reprinting of Arnold's 1938-40 text is to be welcomed, though textual editors might frown at her unsystematic tampering with it and her ad hoc 'corrections' in order to facilitate her translation. No translation of this length could, of course, be faultless, but the number of straightforward errors of comprehension proves, sadly, to exceed what one might reasonably have expected: `en pais' (line 184) meaning `in peace' is confused with pair (despite the rhyme with 'fais' and rendered `in the land'; 'fuz' (line 327) (rhyming with 'aguz') `pieces of wood' is dramatically mistranslated as 'fireballs'; 'a remanant' (line 786) means `in abundance with much to spare' (T-L 8, 713) and not `might stay'; 'robe' (line 845) is not 'clothes' but 'booty' (as at 1047); 'redrescerent' (line 1200) is `regained power' (T-L 8, 542) not 'returned'; Test auciez' (line 1154) is `got to his feet again' not `get even'; 'guarder' (line 1100) is `place in custody' not 'spare'; `apelet de' (line 256) is `legally demand the granting of (cf. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.