The Romance of Tristan


Béroul was a Norman poet of the 12th century. He wrote Tristan, a Norman language version of the legend of Tristan and Iseult of which a certain number of fragments (approximately 3000 verses) have been preserved; it is the earliest representation of the so-called "vulgar" version of the legend (the "courtly" version being represented by fragments from Thomas of Britain's poem). Eilhart von Oberge wrote a treatment of this version in German, and many of Béroul's episodes that do not appear in Thomas reappear in the Prose Tristan. Beroul's poem survives in a single manuscript now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. This copy is poorly written and there is a suggestion that part of the poem was written by a different scribe to the rest. The actual content of the poem also differs from the modern conception of what a narrative poem should be; the plot is disjointed and lacking in a flow of cause and effect, and the characters are poorly defined. Nevertheless, Fedrick proposes that this was common of literature in Beroul's time.[1]

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