Wednesday, February 25, 2009

AD: "The Rubaiyat" to "Sir Launfal"

Omar Khayyam. Arabic. 1000 (?). Poetry. “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.” Epigrammatic quatrains (“rubai”). Edward Fitzgerald’s translation into English. With no knowledge of afterlife, we must enjoy full sensory appreciation of life on earth.

Anonymous. French. 1050. Poetry. Chanson de Roland. Roland = Orlando who is too trusting, unsuspicious and impetuous. He is frank and straightforward and loses his life defending Charlemagne’s rear guard against the treacherous heathen Saracens.

William the Conqueror. Norman/British. 1086. Census. Domesday Book. Latin record of the census, including property, inhabitant, domestic animals. Final authority for litigation. Served as basis for tax assessments until 1522. (“domes” = “domestic).

1100 to 1199.
Anonymous. Welsh. 1100. Tale. “The Lady of the Fountain.”
Includes King Arthur and his court.

Marie de France. French. 1100. Poetry. Sir Launfal. Knight of King Arthur’s Court; falls in love with beautiful fairy. Receives rich gifts from her but cannot reveal the source. Guinevere challenges him to reveal. She says he has insulted her. Finally, he breaks oath to save himself. In spite of his action, the fairy rescues him.

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