The Romance of Tristan

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First book for my medieval literature class: done. If you’re looking for some over the top stories, consider checking out some medieval literature. It’s easier than you’d think, especially with the right translation. (a lot of this was originally written in French, because it was the language of English aristocrats for a while) 

Anywho, The Romance of Tristan is quite the tale. I started out reading it aloud to one of my roommates, and she and I were so surprised at how quickly the story progressed. In one paragraph everything would be fine, and in the other there would be a murder plot. You just never know what the turn of the page will bring in this story. The two lovers, Tristan and Yseut, encounter and get out of so many dilemmas that I found myself laughing throughout the narrative. It’s just a ridiculous story, that honestly, I kinda fell in love with.

Not only is it fabulously hilarious, The Romance of Tristan is one of the first western romances that we have written down (well, partially written down…). We of course had to define just exactly what a romance is before we could really dive into the story. The roots of romance don’t even have to do with love, but with narrative more generally, which means that what makes a good story is what makes a good romance. For those who think all romances are basically the same plot line that just have variety in the flourishes — you would be wrong. The idea of ‘romance’ brought forth a whole list a different connotations from my classmates.

I’m finding that medieval culture is really fascinating. Questions such as to why Beroul seems to be supporting the relationship of Tristan and Yseut, it is technically one of sin, in a heavily Catholic culture are really interesting to me. It’s really a perplexing problem the more you look into it, and the two class periods that we spent on the story did not yield an answer to it.

Who would I recommend this to? Anyone interested in expanding their literary horizons. People who like BBC Merlin or any other King Arthur retellings —  why not go to the source?


2 thoughts on “The Romance of Tristan

  1. Amelia February 3, 2015 / 3:39 pm

    I’m a big fan of Arthurian legend and am definitely going to add this to my “To Read After Graduation” list! It sounds fascinating! We’re reading a lot of this kind of lit in my Courtly Love class.

    • Katie February 12, 2015 / 11:21 pm

      Yay! You’ll have to tell me what you think after you get around to reading it!

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