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Marie de France: The Twelve Lais

10 May 2019

My new verse translation of the Lais of Marie de France is now online here. A contemporary of Chrétien, Marie fashioned written texts from the charming Breton oral tales which she had heard. Intended like Chrétien's works to be read aloud, these Lais only work for me in rhyming octosyllabic couplets as originally composed, and so I have translated them into English in that form.

I will shortly be starting work on Guillaume de Lorris: 'Le Roman de la Rose'. Written c1230, in 4000 or so lines of Middle French, the Romance of the Rose is an allegorical work on the subject of romantic love. It celebrates the courtly tradition. This work was later 'usurped' by Jean de Meung, who edited out Guillaume's ending and produced a massive continuation, satirical, and mysogynistic in tone, which is destructive of Guillaume's courtly world and the conventions of 'fin amour' represented therein. This translation will again be in octosyllabic rhyming couplets to mirror the original, and will allow Guillaume to stand free of Jean de Meung. I have reservations about translating the latter, but may reconsider. 

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