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Gerard Brault’s 1984 student edition of La Chanson de Roland has become a standard text in classrooms. It contains the text and translation from his 1978 analytical edition along with an introduction illuminating the poem’s historical and literary background and significance. This new revised edition contains a new preface and makes significant improvements to both the text and the bibliography.
The text and a line-by-line prose translation are printed on facing pages. Brault’s editing of the Oxford text includes corrections of the scribe’s obvious errors and new readings of garbled or partially obliterated words, and his translation achieves both elegance and accuracy. This new edition pays special attention to the consistency of Saracen proper names.
The introduction places La Chanson de Roland in the context of the French epic tradition, Charlemagne’s Spanish campaign of 778, the legend of Roland, and the linguistic and literary issues raised by the Oxford text. Among the topics covered are the relation between history and myth, the epic’s reflection of prevailing social beliefs and values at the time of its composition (about 1100), and the literary devices employed by the unknown author. The introduction concludes with a note about special problems in editing and translating the Oxford text. An annotated and updated bibliography introduces leading works relating to La Chanson de Roland.