French Mediaeval Romances from the Lays of Marie de France
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French Mediaeval Romances from the Lays of Marie de France

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  3,148 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Marie de France ("Mary of France") was a poet born in France and living in England during the late 12th century. She translated some Latin literature and produced an influential version of Aesop's Fables. Marie de France was one of the leading Old-French poets of the twelfth century. Her works include, The Lais of Marie de France (a collection of twelve short narrative poe...more
Paperback, 178 pages
Published December 31st 2009 by Book Jungle (first published 1160)
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Warwick
Marie de France was an aristocratic twelfth-century poet, from whose name we conclude that she was apparently living somewhere other than France when she wrote her most famous works. Probably England: she writes in Anglo-Norman, which is an important language for anyone interested in the history of English because it's the source of so many borrowings. Marie was probably attached to the court of Henry II (who, I need scarcely remind you, was himself French and spoke no English), but apart from t...more
Nikki
I studied Guigemar and Bisclavret, and I ended up wanting to read the rest of Marie de France's lais. Bisclavret is one of my favourites, really, possibly due to reading William Burgwinkle's criticism of it and being amused to see it as a gay love story. Most of the lais are short and very easy to read, dwelling on knights and their lovers. I quite liked Lanval, as well, the Arthurian lai. Some of them have little morals in them, some of them are just sweet little stories (or sometimes rather bi...more
Dídí
Strengleika Maríu frönsku þekkja íslenskir miðaldafræðingar vel, enda voru þeir þýddir á norrænu á 13. öld við hirð Hákonar Hákonarsonar Noregskonungs. Þessi bók geymir prósaþýðingu á upprunalegum engilnormönskum texta Maríu.

Strengleikarnir eru fallegar litlar smásögur, eða ljóðsögur, sem fjalla um ástina og hirðina - gjarnan ást í meinum. Sú staðreynd að sú sem setti þá saman er kona dregur ekki úr áhuga mínum á þeim nema síður sé - ekki eru til margir þekktir kvenkyns miðaldahöfundur. María va...more
Briana
The Lais of Marie de France is the perfect medieval read for anyone who enjoys fairytales. Each short story features elements that fans of the genre will recognize and love—beautiful women trapped in towers, daring knights who perform feats of arms to capture their attention, mysterious boats that sail themselves. One is even about a king who creates a contest for the hand of his daughter in marriage: any men who can carry her straight up the nearby mountain without resting can have her.

However,...more
Beth
This collection of tales written by a 12th century French woman presents us not only with enchanting stories in the vein of Arthurian legends, but also a glimpse into the controversies over love, marriage, and the role of women during the Middle Ages. These tales (poems in the original, but rendered as prose in this translation) were likely written during the lifetime of Eleanor of Aquitaine – the strong-willed woman who ended up as Queen of both France and England (at different times) and in ma...more
Siria
Marie de France is one of the earliest known female authors, though we know little about her beyond her name, that she wrote in French and was evidently of French origin, and that she spent part of her life in England. To that extent, I found myself interested by these stories, and from a historical perspective there's a lot here. But my problem with the stories—and the reason why I'm a socio-economic historian and not a scholar of literature—is that they reflect such different sensibilities fro...more
Madeline
It was mostly entertaining. It's a collection of lais (short fairy tales, basically) all written by this woman we know basically nothing about. My favorite story was probably "Bisclavret", which is a werewolf story written from the werewolf's perspective. Also he bites his evil wife's nose off, which is kind of cool. The rest of the stories, it must be said, can fall easily into several categories: unfaithful wife/husband, magical lovers, wives locked in towers, and for some reason at least two...more
ifjuly
read this over the course of a quiet evening alone with a glass of wine. wonderful. i love sensualists, even if they get religious. reminds me of that one pessoa heteronym, i forget his name, who spends all his poems singing out about how knowing what a blade of grass or a rock IS has nothing to do with words or meaning or anything but just being, and its being being near his own. people who sing about that are essential for me...
Lars
Short tales attributed to Marie de France, the Countess of Champagne and daughter to Eleanor of Aquitaine, these are more digestible than the longer prose of Chretien de Troyes, but are still insightful nuggets of medieval goodness that portray moral lessons in the guise of fiction, much like the morality plays of the period were performed to extol specific virtues. Definitely worth consideration.
Kay
The first time I read The Lais was in my senior seminar but since then - I can't count how many times I've picked it up and read a few before bed. The Lais is like a collection of fairy tales for adults - including lessons. If Marie de France lived today she would be probably be famous as a screenplay writer. She is witty and fasinating.
Dorothy
Feb 13, 2008 Dorothy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy fans, medievalists, women writers
Recommended to Dorothy by: my chaucer professor
Epic romance, talking beasts, mysterious magics...oh, and a werewolf. Marie de France's lais are the very bones of what Western fantasy literature is made of. People talk about Tolkien being the first, or maybe Dunsany, or Morris. Nah, it goes all the way back to the medieval poets themselves. And Marie is my favorite.
Q
Lords, ladies, and homosexual (and vaguely metaphorical) werewolves- I honestly don't know what else you need from your 12th century oral traditions. A couple of the lays were fairly disappointing (such as the nightingale story) and after a point, all of the swooning becomes slightly hilarious. But the lays do come from a time where STRONG MEN felt STRONG EMOTIONS, so I suppose it was to be expected. This doesn't excuse the woman who swooned four times when she heard the bells announcing her lov...more
Leah
Marie took over my dissertation (and my life) for several months. Even after dissertation (AD) I'm able to love her! Each lai is a gem. She was post-modern in the Middle Ages. Her voice rings clear and true. Her stories are magical.
Noah
Marie's tales are a ton of fun and quite a bit interesting as well. This edition, though it contains endnotes and a few footnotes, is mostly concerned with interpreting (which are mostly good, though general in scope).
Susan
"Whoever has good material for a story is grieved if the tale is not well told. Hear, my lords, the words of Marie, who, when she has the opportunity, does not squander her talents." Indeed.
Mike
The translator's work here is very well done. The translation isn't versified, but the prose lends itself to clarity and a brisk narrative.
Dexter
I came across this book quite by chance, and it was an exciting, if quick, read. This collection gathers all twelve of the lais of Marie de France, the songs themselves originating from the Breton area of Frankia and presented in a new and purportedly more accurate translation. These twelve prose fairy tales include most of the well-known aspects of medieval storytelling: the handsome knight in armor, the damsel in distress, enchanted swords, the whims of Fortune, ensorcelled and hidden kingdoms...more
Michael
I've finished the "Lays" and have the two stories that were not by Marie de France to read, but thought I would get some impressions down before I finish them.

The Lays were originally folk-songs which Marie heard from Breton minstrels, and she frequently praises the music to which they were set, which is obviously lost to us. Her source material is therefore similar to that of the more well-known Chrétien de Troyes,and many of his themes of courtly love and questing are dealt with here, although...more
Marie
Ces lais sont une véritable ode à l'amour courtois. N'étant pas une experte en littérature médiévale, j'ai été étonnée par la relation d'égalité pratiquée par certains des protagonistes (mais ne rêvons pas, ce n'était pas le cas de tous). J'ai trouvé très touchant le lien d'interdépendance et non de subordination, qui reliait les amants entre eux, comme dans «Le Chèvrefeuille», qui raconte l'histoire de Tristan et d'Yseult. «Belle amie, ainsi en va-t-il de nous: ni vous sans moi, ni moi sans vou...more
Ensiform
Translated into modern French and annotated by Laurence Herf-Lancner. This volume (from Les Lettres Gothiques series) includes "Guigemar"; "Equitan"; "Le Frêne"; "Bisclavret"; "Lanval"; "Les Deux Amants"; "Yonec"; "Le Rossignol"; "Milon"; "Le Malheureux"; "Le Chèvrefeuille"; "Eliduc"; three
fables and an excerpt from "Le Purgatoire de saint Patrick", which Marie translated from an English version.

The lays all deal with love and chivalry; most deal with adultery of some sort. Few are supernatural,...more
Vin
“Guigemar”

In the short story “Guigemar”, once author Marie de France is done defending her talent in storytelling and her right to do so despite, “spiteful tittle-tattlers attempt to find fault” (33), she narrates of Guigemar, a most handsome noble night, “wise, brave and loved by everyone” (3). Guigemar doesn’t show “the slightest interest in love”, so when he is out hunting and shoots down a hind and the re bounded arrow enters his thigh and injures him, it seems fitting that the dying hind...more
Jared
I loved this collection of Lais! I had to study them several years ago in a Medieval Literature course, but a second read-through was certainly beneficial. The first time through the language provided a seemingly insurmountable barrier, but nearly 8 years later I find that my French reading skills have improved so greatly that I had no troubles this time around! Medieval Literature = 1, Jared = 1 - now we're tied...

Generally, however, I found the Lais to be quite interesting. As I was reading th...more
Celine
The Lais is a collection of twelve fairy-tale short stories, written in the twelfth to thirteenth century by a Frenchwoman called Marie. The short stories have different subjects, one of them featuring King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, others for example explaining the name of a certain place.

The Lais is a quick read - some stories are about twenty pages, others only five. They all have to do something with love, courtly love to be precise. Starting with the good, I quite liked the...more
Gijs Grob
Gelezen in de Nederlandse vertaling van Anneli Vermeer-Meyer.

Bundeling van epische gedichten waarin Keltische (veelal Engelse) verhalen naverteld worden in hoofse sferen. Marie de France's gepaard rijm is niet erg opzienbarend en vaak zelfs nogal knullig (maar dat kan ook aan de vertaling liggen), maar haar beheersing van spannningsbogen, gevoel voor detail en inlevingsvermogen zijn dik in orde en zo blijven deze Keltische legenden (die allen over de liefde en met name over overspel gaan) boeien...more
Coyle
the point of these tales is the exercise of the author's talent--an exercise best done in public. The success or failure may be judged by the praise of the audience. Since we're still reading her works a thousand years later, I think it's safe to say that Marie's goals have been met.

All twelve of these short stories are fascinating (as is the Editor's Introduction). I was especially surprised that there seem to be three main characters in each one: the knight, the lady, and Love. Or at least, "l...more
Matt
This one is way outside of my usual range, chronologically speaking, but I read a couple of these to teach a World Masterpieces class, and Laustic especially made me want to see more.

The result is that I really liked this, though that might be a general fondness for the novel form-- short, dense romantic adventures with occasionally surreal twists. There are lots of knights and ladies carrying on illicit romances, and what I read as a fair amount of not-very-coded language-- so all these injurie...more
Shelby
I'd have to say my favrite lais were Le Fresne, Equitan, and Les Deux Amans. I liked how there were so many metaphors and double meanings woven into each story. This is another one from the Literature of Medieval England course I took.
Kat Cowley
Believe it or not, this book was a college Western Civilization assignment (which I obviously loved). It's like a collection of adult Aesop Fables that give you a cultured vibe :)
Dianna
The illustrations are beautiful, and so is the translation. Reading from this book was so much more enjoyable than reading from my four-inch-thick Longman Anthology during college.

As for the stories, I didn't really love them. They're all about love, and several are about adulterous relationships. The people then—or at least the mysterious Marie de France—seemed to have a different set of values. Like it's okay to commit adultery if you really really love the other person, but it's not okay if...more
Izumen
Това е то! За мен няма по-голям кеф да потъвам в страниците на произведения, писани преди стотици години. Самият факт, че те са достигнали до теб, че мислите и емоциите на автора им ти влияят и разкриват историческата действителност по това време, защото ако искате наистина да вникнете в някой период, то прочетете книги, писани тогава. И въпреки това, новелите са страшно интересни и увлекателни, а краткостта им ще помогне на по-мързеливите от вас да запазят интереса си до самия край. Подарете си...more
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Marie de France ("Mary of France") was a poet evidently born in France and living in England during the late 12th century. Virtually nothing is known of her early life, though she wrote a form of continental French[citation needed:] that was copied by Anglo-Norman scribes. Therefore, most of the manuscripts of her work bear Anglo-Norman traits. She also translated some Latin literature and produce...more
More about Marie de France...
Le Lai de Lanval Fables (Toronto Medieval Texts & Translations) The Black Book of the Werewolf Saint Patrick's Purgatory: A Poem Guingamor, Lanval, Tyolet, Le Bisclaveret: Arthurian Romances

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