“ Author: Beroul / Genre: Classic Literature „
During the reign of Henry II an Anglo-Norman minstrel arrived in Cornwall from his native France, earning his living by entertaining and by bringing news from lands afar to that wild and isolated land. On his travels he became so intrigued by a story often told by the local people that he decided to write a poem about it. The story that so excited his imagination became perhaps the earliest recorded version of the tale of Tristan and Iseult. The minstrel was Beroul and, even though it has been told in countless forms and guises through the centuries, this story still remains one of the greatest love stories ever told. The tale of thwarted love, of Tristan and Iseult and King Mark, of spells and love potions and in the end death is still as sad and beautiful today. In this book Joy Wilson has decided to search for the truth of the sad story in Beroul's poem. His words are very descriptive, not only of people but places and she used them as her clues as she tried to retrace the tragic lovers journey. Her book isn't long, only about fifty pages or so but it's written in an easy, direct way and with plenty of knowledge. Wilson's words are accompanied by some stunning photographs of the places described. Wilson is a bard of the "Cornish Gorsedd" who studied English and French literature at Trinity College in Dublin. In the bard tradition she really does inspire your imagination as the pages of her book take you across the wild Cornish countryside retracing the steps taken by Tristan and Iseult. The first part of the book concentrates on a brief retelling of the story. No matter how brief, it's always a delight to read. The second attempts to break down and unearth some historical fact about this twelfth century poem. Wilson begins her journey at the Tristan Stone on the Cornish Fowey peninsula, through the "forest of Moresk" to St Michael's Mount, then on to Land's End before reaching its end on the Isles of Scilly. Each place is described in detail by Wilson with its likely relevance to the poem: On the way by which they went A chapel on a hill Was built on a rocky pinnacle It overlooked the sea in the north-east wind The part called a channel was built on a mound Beyond was nothing but a cliff The hill was smooth slatey rock If a squirrel jumped from there It would be killed I guarantee Was Beroul describing the ancient chapel at Roche? Wilson thinks it's likely that he was. If so then perhaps we're seeing the poem's "Ogrin's Hermitage" as it is today. You don't need to love the Arthur stories as much as I do, or even the Cornish landscape as much as I do to enjoy Wilson's book. It's one of a series about Cornwall and Cornish myths and legends published by Bossiney Books of Launceston. It's well worth the half hour or so it takes to read this particular take on the Tristan Iseult story - it might make you look at the landscape around you in a different way and you never know, it might even spark your imagination just as it sparked that travelling poet's almost a thousand years ago! [I appreciate this probably isn't the right section for the book - but I did suggest the item to Jo* who says it's ok to post it here. When things are all back to normal I'll ask her to move it.]
#What is a myth? A myth is a story, a symbolic fable, simple and striking, summarizing an infinite number of more or less similar situations. It translates the rules of a social group or religious: its origin must be obscure. #The myth of Tristan and Iseult falls under the rules of the knighthood. The myth is set in the 12th century during a time when the elites make a vast effort of setting a social and moral order. #In this context the loves of Tristan and Iseult and especially their life in the forest of Morois seems a pure scandal for this 12th century society. They have a wild life, far from the ideals of the society and the civilisation; they work with their hands, which is unworthy of their social status. The forest is a fortress protecting them from the justice and the institutions of the feudal law; it is also a prison, a cage that plasters them in the row of human beasts, rebels to the law of God and Man. Told thousand of times this old Celtic legend is still one of the most famous love dramas in literature: >>>>>Back in time the King Mark is the sovereign of the Cornouaille County…he is generous and noble but capable of the most horrible things. His youngest sister Blanchefleur falls in love with Loonois, the King’s son. >>>>>The two young people run away from the palace and get married. But Blanchefleur dies giving birth to a boy. Her husband names him Tristan. >>>>>Tristan learns how to fight, to hunt and to sing. Unfortunately his father gets killed in a booby trap. Tristan takes refuge in his uncle, the King Mark. He gains his trust and esteem but without revealing him their family link. >>>>>Tristan is wounded after a fight against the Morholt giant. His life being in danger he decides to try a last adventure. He gets onto a small boat without sail or oar and lets the sea takes him away. >>>>>After 7 days he reaches Ireland. Because he lie s, Morholt’s sister helps him out and it is where he meets Iseult. Here starts the legend. It is a beautiful tale full of passion. Very easy to read and will suit anyone. And as you go further in the book, you will notice that it contains all the elements making the Celt woman a full being but also a fearful one a bit like a fairy or divinity creature. It is clear the Celtic values see the woman in a different way than other societies. “Women have never been subjects to men sides but objects of exchange like money”. This thought from Claude Levi-Strauss is an observation of a fact present in the world. However all the societies didn’t react in the same way. This is where the Celtic era gets involved (and it is how you will see the things when you read the book). We know now that the Celtic society, at least on a law level, allowed women a place they wouldn’t have in any other society: They were involved in politics, religion, could own personal belongings, could rule, choose their potential husband, and ask for divorce and so on. This reading is rather interesting for evocating so. If we pay attention to Tristan, you’ll see he makes cruelty move back by killing Morholt. But what is tragic is that each time, he is wounded and only Iseult can cure him. He pays a high price his heroic act and only love can get him out of the pain but things just don’t go this way. And the funny thing is the more you get involved in the book the more you will witness terrible things happening to Tristan and the only word that can come out of your mouth to define this fate is sadness. Moreover it is very interesting to have in mind the roots of the name Tristan, very close to the French word “tristesse” meaning sadness. And there is the correlation between his fate and his name. The philtre breaking his heroic career accelerates his destiny, related to his name, destiny of sadnes s. The descent towards death is very well exposed and is one of the main parts in the book. Fate governs the life of those tragic lovers, whatever the efforts they undertake, they can’t go against their fate. Absolutely a brilliant book, not to miss.
The tale of Tristan and Iseult originated outside of the cycle of stories of King Arthur and his circle of knights, but two became intertwined early on. It is a love story set mainly in Ireland.