Arthurian romance
The Arthurian romance seems to have developed first in the British Isles, before being taken to the Continent by Bretons, who migrated to Brittany in the 6th and 7th centuries. The core of the legend about Arthur and his knights derives from lost Celtic mythology. Many of the incidents in the former parallel the deeds of such legendary Irish characters as Cú Chulainn, an Ulster warrior said to have been fathered by the god Lug, and Finn, hero of the Fenian cycle about a band of warriors defending Ireland, both of whom are gods transformed into human heroes. The earliest extant works on Arthurian themes are four poems of Chrétien de Troyes, written in French between 1155 and 1185: Erec, Yvain, Le Chevalier de la Charette (left unfinished by Chrétien and completed by Godefroy de Lagny), and an unfinished Perceval. In German, after 1188, Hartmann von Aue (who also wrote two legendary poems not belonging to the Arthurian cycle, Gregorius and Poor Henry) modeled his Erec and Iwein on those of Chrétien. The story of Perceval was given a full account by Wolfram von Eschenbach (c. 1170–1220) in his Parzival and in the unfinished Titurel. Another incomplete work of Wolfram, Willehalm, deals with the legend of William of Orange. Tristan of Gottfried von Strassburg is based directly on the older French version of Thomas of Britain (c. 1170–80). The romance proper, however, although it has similarities to the epic, differs in its lack of high purpose: fictions are told for their entertainment value rather than as models for national heroism. Developed in France in the Middle Ages, the romance is usually an adventure story with a strong love interest, intimately associated with the courtly love tradition of that time.

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