Essays discussion

The Mabinogion
This topic is about The Mabinogion
5 views
Mabinogion > Peredur son of Efrog

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Lia (new) - added it

Lia | 522 comments Mod
‘Go to Arthur’s court,’ she said, ‘where you will find the best men
and most generous and most brave. Wherever you see a church, chant the Our Father to it. If you see food and drink, if you are in need of it and no one has the courtesy or goodness to offer it to you, help yourself. If you hear a scream, go towards it, and a woman’s scream above any other scream in the world. If you see a fair jewel, take it and give it to someone else, and because of that you will be praised. If you see a beautiful lady, make love to her even though she does not want you––it will make you a better and braver man than before.’


LOL WUT!?!?


message 2: by Lia (new) - added it

Lia | 522 comments Mod
I suspect Cai is Sir Kay.

And since the first thing Peredur wants is food, and the dwarf seems to be his mate. I'm suspecting that he's a version of Sir Gareth.


message 3: by Lia (new) - added it

Lia | 522 comments Mod
Peredur overthrew the knight. The knight asked for mercy.
‘You shall have mercy on condition that you take this woman as a wife, and treat her as well as you have treated other women, since you killed her husband for no reason; and proceed to Arthur’s court and tell him that it was I who overthrew you in service and honour to Arthur.


... jaw-dropping "justice" at work here. The "punishment" for murdering someone's husband is to marry the widow... That would seem awfully destabilizing.


message 4: by Ian (last edited Jun 16, 2018 07:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Slater (yohanan) | 103 comments Lia wrote: "I suspect Cai is Sir Kay.

And since the first thing Peredur wants is food, and the dwarf seems to be his mate. I'm suspecting that he's a version of Sir Gareth."


Right.

Kai is known in Welsh tradition as Kai Hir, Kay the Tall, hence Peredur's description of him as "the tall man." The late Roger Sherman Loomis, who was quite sure of extensive Welsh influence on the French Arthurian and Tristan stories (not originally linked), proposed that a minor character, Caeherdin, is an unrecognized double for Kai.

Both Peredur and Gareth fall into the category of "The Fair Unknown," a recurrent theme in which a boy of unknown (but noble) parentage unexpectedly proves himself as a knight. (Or something else in folktale versions, but here we are talking about Arthurian romances.)


message 5: by Ian (last edited Jun 16, 2018 07:27AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Slater (yohanan) | 103 comments Lia wrote: "‘Go to Arthur’s court,’ she said, ‘where you will find the best men
and most generous and most brave. Wherever you see a church, chant the Our Father to it. If you see food and drink, if you are in..."


Chretien's version of the "good advice" is much less objectionable, and somewhat less specific, trying to put restrictions on the boy's actions, but Perceval's mother gives it without context, as though her son had been brought up in noble society, instead of in the forest, and only needed reminders of how to be polite. (She may have been too upset by losing him to think clearly!)

Perceval's uncomprehending but literal obedience causes no end of trouble, even when it is replaced by more practical instructions from a kindly knight.

This passage is one of the reasons for thinking that the Welsh story is under *some* French influence, since it refers in garbled fashion to conventions of chivalrous behavior, not those of a Welsh Heroic Age -- which show up in the revenge motif which replaces the usual explanations of the bleeding lance and the grail.


message 6: by Lia (new) - added it

Lia | 522 comments Mod
I'm grinning just reading your description of it, Ian. Which book of Chrétien can I find this series of unfortunate blunders?


message 7: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Slater (yohanan) | 103 comments Lia wrote: "I'm grinning just reading your description of it, Ian. Which book of Chrétien can I find this series of unfortunate blunders?"

As you've probably guessed by now, "Perceval, or The Story of the Grail" -- for many years hard to find in English, and then incomplete,* but now in five recent prose translations, including the one by Nigel Bryant you've apparently started.

Wolfram von Eschenbach took over this material fairly directly into his "Parzival," closely following Chretien for a stretch -- there wasn't much he could do to improve on the boy's misunderstandings.

In one or more of my reviews of that German epic, I compared Perceval/Parzival to the original, animated, version of "George of the Jungle" -- very strong, very handsome, and very stupid -- as has also been said of Wagner's Siegfried.

(If you never saw the animated "George," he is convinced that his elephant friend is a pet dog -- "a long-nosed doggie." Some of the jokes in the short-running, but oft-rerun series, were better than that: such as the explanation that a man-eating plant is George's friend, because he once removed a paw from its thorn....The live-action movie failed to live up to the lunacy of the original.)

*W.W. Comfort failed to translate it with the others, excusing himself by pointing out that he had already translated the Vulgate "Queste," and that the poem was very long, and unfinished. Roger Sherman Loomis translated the Perceval portions (not the contrasting Gawain sections) for a Modern Library volume of "Medieval Romance," which was my first encounter with it. Ruth Harwood Cline finally translated it complete, in verse, in 1985 (copyright 1983): Amazon assures me that this is in print, although I've had trouble finding it in searches, for some reason.


message 8: by Lia (new) - added it

Lia | 522 comments Mod
It's not too late for me to return Bryant's translation if you think there are better translations :D


message 9: by Lia (new) - added it

Lia | 522 comments Mod
Perceval shows the gradual making of a supremely fine knight in every sense – martial, moral and spiritual. And from time to time, as in the ‘crusading’ episode of the battle with the Knight of the Dragon, the romance was able suddenly to jolt its medieval audience into a quite unexpected realisation of the meaning of being a knight


I’m having a very hard time seeing a “supremely fine knight in every sense“ emerging out of this very strong, very handsome, and very stupid Perceval. I guess I’ll have to read on to find out!


back to top