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«Edited and translated by Glyn S. Burgess and Leslie C. Brook Liverpool Online Series Critical Editions of French Texts 1 Liverpool Online Series ...»

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Edited and translated by

Glyn S. Burgess and Leslie C. Brook

Liverpool Online Series

Critical Editions of French Texts


Liverpool Online Series

Critical Editions of French Texts

Series Editor

Timothy Unwin

Editorial Board

Peter Ainsworth

Glyn Burgess

Alan Howe

Richard Waller

Advisory Board

David Bellos

Rosemary Lloyd Beverley Ormerod Henry Phillips Gerald Prince Deirdre Reynolds Jean-Marie Volet Jane Winston Published by The University of Liverpool, Department of French Modern Languages Building Liverpool L69 3BX © Glyn Burgess and Leslie Brook All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.

Printed by Alphagraphics® Tel: 0151 236 0559 First published 1999 ISBN 0 9533816 0 9 Three Old French Narrative Lays Trot, Lecheor, Nabaret Liverpool Online Series Critical Editions of French Texts The aim of this series is to establish a resource bank of critical editions and translations of French texts. These are to be made available in electronic form, with parallel paper publication of a small number of copies of each item. Online versions of items in the series are designed to be viewed as an exact replica of the printed copies, with identical pagination and formatting. They are stored on the

University of Liverpool server at the following URL:

http://www.liv.ac.uk/www/french/LOS/ The texts are available in PDF (Portable Document Format) form, requiring the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Instructions for downloading this free and widely- used software application are available at the Liverpool Online Series web site.

The format combines maximum security with maximum flexibility of usage.

Texts may either be viewed on screen, downloaded for personal study, or printed as camera-ready copy by the end-user. They cannot be interferedwith or otherwise recycled by unauthorised users.

Items in the series are being selected to cover a range of areas throughout the field of French and Francophone studies. They may be single texts or anthologies, are of short to medium length, and contain critical introduction, notes and bibliography as appropriate. Each item will contain either unedited or otherwise unobtainable material, or material which for scholarly reasons requires an up-todate edition. The series accommodates editions in the original or in translation, or with parallel translation into English. It aims primarily at the scholar and specialist, but the format makes it accessible to the interested general reader or student.

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Foreword………………………………………………………………………..…6 General Introduction………………………………………………………………7 Trot……………………………………………………………………………….13 Lecheor………………………………………………………………………...…45 Nabaret…………………………………………………………………………...73 Conclusion………………………………………………………………………..89 Manuscripts…………………………………………………………………...….91 Bibliography…………………………………………………………………..….92 Foreword The Old French lay is related to romance rather as the modern-day short story is to the novel. The lay flourished alongside romance in the latter half of the twelfth century and during the thirteenth. We have selected three lays which have so far received relatively little critical attention and which we consider worthy of being more widely known. We have edited them afresh, together with a separate introduction to each one and a line-by-line translation in English. A composite bibliography provides full bibliographical details of other editions, translations and studies.

The idea of preparing an edition of these lays was first mooted several years ago, but the stimulus to bring it to fruition has been provided by the decision to set up the Liverpool Online Series, which our venture will inaugurate.

We would like to express our thanks to Timothy Unwin, who has guided us through the technical problems relating to online publication, and also to Peter Ainsworth, Rose Donohue, Penny Eley and Eliza Hoyer-Millar, who have made valuable comments on points of detail.

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Lays were originally sung compositions, and probably some time in the 1160s or early 1170s a lady whom we call Marie de France appears to have been the first to turn them into short, narrative poems without any musical or specifically lyrical element. Also extant are a number of narrative poems from the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, many of them anonymous, and they too can be designated as lays.

Whether all these poems should be called simply narrative lays or more specifically Breton lays remains problematic. For the title of the present volume we have kept to the designation ‘narrative lays’, but it cannot be denied that the origin of the genre owes a lot to Brittany and that Breton elements, including geographical locations, have a significant role to play within the corpus. Whether the three poems edited and translated here should be called Breton or narrative lays is a question which we leave to the preferences of individual readers.

The precise number of Old French poems which can be classed as lays is difficult to determine with confidence.

It is now generally agreed that Marie herself composed twelve lays: Guigemar, Equitan, Le Fresne, Bisclavret, Lanval, Les Deus Amanz, Yonec, Laüstic, Milun, Chaitivel, Chevrefoil and Eliduc.1 Mortimer Donovan’s book The Breton Lay: a Guide to Varieties contains a chapter entitled ‘The Later Breton Lay in French’, in which he discusses a further twenty lays:

Aristote, Conseil, Cor, Desiré, Doon, Espervier, Espine, Graelent, Guingamor, Haveloc, Ignaure, Lecheor, Mantel, Melion, Nabaret, Oiselet, Ombre, Trot, Tydorel 1 The order given here is that found in MS British Library, Harley 978. Nine of Marie’s lays are found in MS Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, nouv. acq. fr. 1104, but here the order is Guigemar, Lanval, Yonec, Chevrefoil, Deus Amanz, Bisclavret, Milun, Le Fresne and Equitan.

Moreover, in this manuscript Marie’s compositions are intermingled with other lays. References to the Lais of Marie de France in the present work are taken from the edition by A. Ewert (for full details of all items mentioned see the Bibliography).

7Three Old French Narrative Lays

and Tyolet.2 The list of lays provided by Renate Krolle at the end of her book Der narrative Lai als eigenständige Gattung in der Literatur des Mittelalters includes all those mentioned so far, plus a further four: Amours, Piramus et Tisbé, Narcisus and Le Vair Palefroi (p. 234). Kroll’s list thus contains a total of thirty-six lays.3 Some scholars, however, would remove one or two of these texts from a list of lays on the grounds that the comic elements they contain suggest that they should be classified as fabliaux, eg. Aristote, Espervier and Mantel. In addition, one is tempted to add to the list of lays La Chastelaine de Vergi, a poem which in the extant manuscripts is not designated as a lay but which is in many ways hard to distinguish from a poem such as the Lai de l'Ombre. ‘The appearance of La Chastelaine de Vergi’, writes Paula Clifford, ‘is closely allied to that of the lai as it was established by Marie de France’.4 If length were to be regarded as an important criterion, we could note that La Chastelaine de Vergi (958 lines) is significantly shorter than Marie de France's Eliduc (1184 lines). Most of the lays which are not attributed to Marie de France remain anonymous. The exceptions are Aristote by Henri d’Andeli, Cor by Robert Biket, Ignaure by Renaut de Beaujeu and Ombre by Jehan Renart.5 Some scholars like to designate all the narrative lays as Breton lays, either because they refer within the text to a Breton origin or setting, or because the entire genre owes its origin to Breton minstrels. Mortimer Donovan, as we have seen, entitled his book The Breton Lay: a Guide to Varieties, and he divides the lays into two principal groups, those by Marie de France and the ‘later Breton’ ones. However, he subdivides the later lays 2 These twenty lays form the corpus of texts in G.S. Burgess, The Old French Narrative Lay: an Analytical Bibliography.

3 Ferdinand Lot suggested that the Folie Tristan d'Oxford and the Folie Tristan de Berne should be classified as lays (‘Etudes sur la provenance du cycle arthurien’, p. 513).

4 La Chastelaine de Vergi and Jean Renart: Le Lai de l'Ombre (London: Grant and Cutler, 1986), p. 12.

5 A number of lays which are now regarded as anonymous have been considered at some stage to be by Marie de France. B. de Roquefort included Espine and Graelent in his edition of the Lais (Paris: Chasseriau, 1819-20) and in his third edition K. Warnke included Guingamor (Halle:

Niemeyer, 1925). F. Hiller’s dissertation was entitled Tydorel: ein Lai der Marie de France (Rostock: Lewerenz, 1927). When publishing Doon, Guingamor, Lecheor, Tydorel and Tyolet in 1879, Gaston Paris asked whether all these lays could be attributed to Marie de France. He concluded that only Lecheor is definitely not by her (p. 37).

8 General Introduction

into (i) ‘Anonymous Breton Lays’ (Desiré, Graelent, Guingamor, Doon, Melion, Epine, Tydorel and Tyolet), (ii) the ‘Didactic Lay’ (Trot, Oiselet, Conseil, Ombre, Ignaure), (iii) the ‘Elevated Fabliau’ (Espervier, Aristote, Cor, Mantel, Nabaret), (iv) the expression ‘Breton Lay applied to Non-Breton Material’ (Haveloc) and (v) Lecheor, which is seen as a parodic lay.

Harry F. Williams examined the corpus in his article ‘The Anonymous Breton

Lays’, and he concluded that there are thirteen lays which fit this designation:

Desiré, Graelent and Guingamor (the fairy-mistress stories), Doon and Melion (which treat subjects dealt with by Marie de France), Tyolet, Tydorel and Espine (which refer to the Bretons and contain Celtic motifs), Trot, Lecheor, Nabaret and Haveloc (which invoke Breton songs and place the action in Brittany, or Great Britain in the case of Haveloc) and Mantel (the prologue is suggestive of the Breton lay and the geography of the text is Celtic). To these thirteen lays one could add two with known authors: Cor and Ignaure. Williams shows that over the years only the first three in this list (Desiré, Graelent and Guingamor) have consistently been accepted by scholars as Breton lays. The authenticity of all the rest has been questioned at some stage. Poems such as Conseil, Narcisse and Le Vair Palefroi should, in Williams’ view (p. 84), be classified as ‘other types of narrative lays’ (courtly, comical, classical, etc.).

Of particular significance for the present purpose is Prudence Tobin’s edition of eleven lays, published in 1976 under the title Les Lais anonymes des XIIe et XIIIe siècles: édition critique de quelques lais bretons. The poems edited in this volume are: Graelent, Guingamor, Desiré, Tydorel, Tyolet, Espine, Melion, Doon, Trot, Lecheor and Nabaret. In comparison with the list drawn up by Williams, Haveloc and Mantel are omitted.6 Tobin (p. 10) divides her lays into five categories: (i) ‘les lais féeriques dans le cadre breton’ (Graelent, Guingamor, Desiré, Tydorel, Tyolet, Espine), (ii) ‘les lais plus réalistes dans le cadre breton, toujours avec un élément surnaturel’ (Melion, Doon), (iii) ‘le lai didactique dans le cadre breton, toujours avec 6 For Tobin the subject of Mantel ‘l’éloigne de nos lais’ (p. 10). She mentions the exclusion of Haveloc, but does not provide a reason for it (ibid.).

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son élément de mystère’ (Trot), (iv) ‘un lai burlesque à la mise en scène bretonne’ (Lecheor) and (v) ‘un lai dans le cadre breton sans élément surnaturel’ (Nabaret).

It is to be noted that the three lays edited in the present work are printed at the end of Tobin’s volume and that each is placed in a category of its own. Indeed, without these three poems Tobin would have eight lays divided into just two categories: ‘lais féeriques’ and ‘lais plus réalistes’. These eight would then possess, uncontroversially, the main features of a Breton lay: a geographical setting in Britain or Brittany, a commemorative account of an aventure (frequently with reference to an earlier lay composed by the Bretons), supernatural elements, an account of the love between a knight and his lady (including the way in which they meet, the obstacles they encounter and the suffering they are forced to undergo), the relationship between the lovers and society (particularly as represented by the court), the presence of some form of chivalric activity, the absence of any significant comic element, etc. The last three lays in Tobin’s edition, Trot, Lecheor and Nabaret, have undeniable links with the themes of the other eight, especially the reference to the Bretons (Trot, v. 303, Lecheor, v. 2) and to Bretaigne (Trot, v. 6, Nabaret, v. 1). But although the relationship between men and women is also central to the thematic structure of these three, in each case the relationship operates differently from that found in Tobin’s other lays or in those of Marie de France, in which the aventure remembered brings the principal protagonists together in some form of passionate union.

A number of scholars have commented on the fact that Trot, Lecheor and Nabaret fit uneasily into the corpus of Breton lays. Trot, writes Jean-Charles Payen, has ‘rien à voir avec cette histoire d’un couple qui constitue le sujet favori de Marie de France’.7 Lecheor, states Tobin, ‘a peu de points communs avec les autres lais de ce recueil. Il ne s’agit pas d’une aventure, ni d’une rencontre amoureuse’ (p. 349).

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