Sunday, March 7

Book Review: The Romance of Tristan and Iseult by Joseph Bédier

Author: Joseph Bédier, Hilaire Belloc (Translator)
Title: The Romance of Tristan and Iseult
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Classics
Format: paperback
Pages: 205 
Published: 1170
Where I Got It: My shelf (Used bookstore)

This immortal tale from the Age of Chivalry concerns the doomed love between a knight and a princess — one of the great romances of medieval literature, along with that of Lancelot and Guinevere. The heroic Tristan, nephew and champion of King Mark of Cornwall, journeys to Ireland to bring home his uncle's betrothed, the fair Iseult. Their shipboard voyage takes a tumultuous turn with a misunderstanding and a magic potion, and the lovers quickly find that there's no turning back.

An enduring theme in Western art, literature, and music, Tristan and Iseult's tragic tale was most famously interpreted by Richard Wagner in his popular opera. This edition features J. Bédier's seamless weaving of many medieval sources into a captivating narrative, complemented by Hilaire Belloc's eloquent translation.

"Love pressed them hard, as thirst presses the dying stag to the stream; love dropped upon them from high heaven, as a hawk slipped after long hunger falls right upon the bird. And love will not be hidden...But in every hour and place every man could see Love terrible, that rode them, and could see in these lovers their every sense overflowing like new wine working in the vat."

Yayy re-reading this for the year. It was picked for book club so I dusted this bad boy off and gave it another read. The last time I read this was in 3/10/2015. *does math* Pretty much 6 years to the day (odd...very odd and kinda funny). 

This is for sure a little hard to read. It is old English much like a lot of the classics. But I enjoy it so much. Its a quick read, but SO much happens to these love birds. There are a lot of interpretations of the original poem. This is just one of them. I would love to read the original in the original language, but I would have to learn that language first. Sighs. Dreams and goals one day. 

This breaks my heart every time I read it. Not just for Tristan and Iseult the Fair, but for King Mark. WHY didn't they just leave him alone. He was FINE not marrying. He didn't WANT to marry. The Councillors hated Tristan SO much that they didn't want him to possibly inherit. They doomed all of them. Yes, yes, this is supposed to be a tragedy and all, but SIGHS it always pisses me off. 

Lies lead into more lies. Leads into doing whatever you can to keep the secret, which just makes it worse. It is tragic for everyone involved. It's a sad story from the moment they sip from that cup. 

I love the magic and fantasy elements mixed in (not the magic love potion though. UGH). The movie really avoided that...which I get....but I think it added an little something extra to the story. You can't fight magic. I didn't like the love potion though, because I think they were bound to love each other regardless so it seemed unnecessary. He was heroic and had been so nice and kind to her. Plus being stuck on a boat in close quarters for THAT are bound to get the feels. ;) I liked the magic, but I hated the magic love potion. I GET that it is symbolic and etc and etc, but still. 

Overall, I really adore the book. The movie is 100% better but I blame James Franco. Can't beat him hehe. But this book really does stand well on its own. Its tragic love between lovers, family, and friends. Lies, affairs, secrets, is the human element and it really is showed here. Love can be the most deadly and dangerous emotion. 

I highly recommend it. I still will keep the 5 stars on this one. 

- #9 for Romance Bingo - Free spot


Melliane said...

Oh fun and of course I know of their story

Carole Rae said...

Such a sad story!

Blodeuedd said...

I never though of it that way!

Jen Twimom said...

I'm glad you loved the re-read. I don't think I could do it... I'm not a fan of tragic love stories. Is the movie sad?

Carole Rae said...

B, Poor Mark.

Jen, the movie is super sad.