Reading Roundup: Medieval Literature

Alas, I have fallen into the bad habit of procrastination. I have not been writing about the books I’ve been reading as I finish and am now pretty behind. Then again, I’m not really sure I want to devote an entire post to each book I read anyways anymore. These collective book posts may be the new norm. Who know? I’m still trying to figure out what works for me as far as blogging goes. But anywho, here are some of the books that I’ve been reading lately — medieval lit. edition.

The Lais of Marie de France

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The Lais of Marie de France is a collection of short stories all written by the same woman sometime in the 12th century.  I actually didn’t read all of them (shh! Don’t tell Goodreads that I lied to it!). My professor only assigned four of the stories, and I wasn’t about to do more work than was required. Regardless of my minimal effort put into this collection, I really and truly did enjoy all of the stories that we read. They were comical, witty, and simply a pleasure. I would like to read the other stories when I get a chance, but it’s probably not going to happen for a while. To keep this short and simple, I’ll end this section by saying that I would recommend this collection.

Yvain or The Knight of the Lion

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Good ol’ Yvain. A knight who really just doesn’t get that the ideal of honor is a public affair, and thus as a knight he can’t just run off on his own. and he can’t just isolate himself in the wilderness when he forgets about his love and his promise and is subsequently publically shamed. Thankfully he runs into a lion, and the relationship that he forms with said lion saves him. Gotta love those symbolic characters. As with Marie’s Lais, I really enjoyed this narrative. Chrétian is really a master at what he does. The narrative is very architectural, and if you study it, you will see what I mean. The scenes are just very interlocked. Again, yes I would recommend this story as it is both enjoyable and lends itself to a diverse spectrum of critical readings. It’s probably

Lancelot or The Knight of the Cart

 

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Lancelot is probably the most well-known knight of Arthur’s court, but I didn’t enjoy his story as much as Yvain’s. While it was good, I just didn’t find it as compelling as Yvain’s. I just feel that Yvain had more character development than Lancelot and that The Knight of the Lion was a more pleasurable read than The Knight of the Cart. Feel free to disagree with me, but that’s my stance. Anywho, I probably wouldn’t jump to recommend this poem as much as I would the others, but it is still worth the time to read if you are interested in medieval literature.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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This is actually the second time I’ve read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Both times I have enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t say that it’s my favorite medieval romance. While it’s definitely no bore to read and I do enjoy analyzing it, I personally think Yvain was a more entertaining read. The basic premise of this romance is that this giant green (yes green) knight shows up in Arthur’s court challenging someone to chop off his head. The person who does so must allow the green knight to do the same a year later. It’s a tale about honor and living up to your image. Like all the others, I’d say it’s worth checking out if you’re into medieval literature.

 

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5 thoughts on “Reading Roundup: Medieval Literature

  1. gettingthroughanxiety March 12, 2015 / 1:00 am

    I took Medieval Lit, wasn’t really a fan. That first picture is all too familiar!

    • Katie March 12, 2015 / 2:47 pm

      Medieval literature can definitely a bit of an acquired taste. I’m sorry you didn’t like your class about it. I think it helps a lot that my professor is fun and my classmates are all incredibly talkative. It makes analyzing the texts all that much more fun.

  2. Amelia March 12, 2015 / 2:40 pm

    We covered the Lais of Marie de France in my Courtly Love class. We only read a handful of the tales as well, but I loved them! Lancelot was originally on the syllabus, but my professor changed her mind and went with The Romance of the Rose (which I do NOT recommend).
    I’ll definitely have to add Yvain to my reading list!!

    • Katie March 12, 2015 / 2:45 pm

      We talked a little bit about The Romance of the Rose, but aren’t reading it because our class is specifically focused on Arthurian legends. It’s good to know that you didn’t like it. As far as Yvain goes–READ IT! It’s so funny.

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