Cliges / Edition 1

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Overview

In this extraordinarily fine translation of Cligès, the second of five surviving Arthurian poems by twelfth-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes, Burton Raffel captures the liveliness, innovative spirit, and subtle intentions of the original work. In this poem, Chrétien creates his most artful plot and paints the most starkly medieval portraits of any of his romances. The world he describes has few of the safeguards and protections of civilization: battles are brutal and merciless, love is anguished and desperate. Cligès tells the story of the unhappy Fenice, trapped in a marriage of constraint to the emperor of Constantinople. Fenice feigns death, then awakens to a new, happy life with her lover.

Enormously popular in their own time, each of Chrétien's great verse romances is a fast-paced psychologically oriented narrative. In a rational and realistic manner, Chrétien probes the inner workings of his characters and the world they live in, evoking the people, their customs, and their values in clear, emotionally charged verse. Cligès is filled with Chrétien's barbs and bawdiness, his humor and his pleasure, his affection and his contempt. It is the unmistakable work of a brilliantly individualistic poet, brought to modern English readers by Raffel's poetic translation in a metric form invented specifically to reflect Chrétien's narrative speed and tone.

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Editorial Reviews

Arthuriana
Her work constitutes the finest poetic translations now available of Chrétien's romances.
South Atlantic Review
Rhyming vocabulary that sustains the narrative flow and ambience of the Arthurian universe . . . An extraordinary work that represents laudable achievement.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300070217
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 7/21/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 485,741
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Prologue 1
King Arthur's Court 2
Love Laments 13
England and Knighthood 31
The Siege of Windsor 36
Alexander's Wedding 65
The Birth of Cliges 69
Alexander's Settlement 71
A German Marriage 77
The Cologne Tournament 83
Thessala's Sorcery 87
Alis's Wedding 94
Fenice's Abduction and Return 99
Cliges Departs for Britain 123
The Wallingford Tournament 133
Cliges Returns to Greece 147
Avowal and Plans 150
The Empress's Illness 164
The Tower 179
Notes 197
Bibliography 209
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