Tristan and Isolde


Tristan and Isolde
   The mythical account of the two lovers Tristan/Tristrant/ Tristrem and Isolde/Iseut/Isotta deeply influenced the entire history of European literature from the early Middle Ages to the present, originating in ancient Irish, Cornish, and Scottish sagas, as confirmed by various references to “Drustan/Drvstavs” and “Eselt” from the sixth to the eighth centuries. It gained a solid foothold in the middle of the 12th century with the Old French version by an otherwise unknown BÉROUL (Tristan) and with the fragments by Thomas d’Angleterre (including one recently discovered in Carlisle). The narrative of the adulterous love affair—Isolde being married to Tristan’s uncle Mark but in love with Tristan only— quickly spread through oral channels and is already reflected by MARIE DE FRANCE in her lai “Chevrefueil,” in CHRÉTIEN DE TROYES’s CLIGÈS, and songs by BERNART DE VENTADORN, RAIMBAUT D’ORANGE, CHÂTELAIN DE COUCY, REINMAR DERALTE, and others (all written ca. 1170–90). Comic and grotesque elements were explored by the anonymous Old French authors of the Folie Tristan de Berne and the Folie Tristan d’Oxford, and the 13th-century Middle High German author of Tristan als Mönch. EILHART VON OBERGE composed a highly influential Middle High German Tristrant romance at around 1190, and the Alemannic poet GOTTFRIED VON STRASSBURG wrote his version, probably the most famous one, in ca. 1210. The early 13th century witnessed the emergence of the most influential text, Tristan en prose, which was translated into most European languages throughout the following centuries, such as Middle English, Medieval Spanish, Medieval Italian, Old Norse, Old Czech,Greek, and Serbo-Russian. By the end of the 16th century the literary myth of this love affair seems to have fallen into oblivion, but the medieval texts were rediscovered by the end of the 18th century, leading to a remarkable revival of the myth in a myriad of forms, including translations, retellings, poems, dramas, operas (Richard Wagner, 1867–69), scholarly studies (Denis de Rougemont, 1939), films (Jean Cocteau, 1943; Yvan Lagrange, 1972), and novels (John Updike, 1965).
   Bibliography
   ■ Classen, Albrecht, et al., eds. Tristania. A Journal Devoted to Tristan Studies. 20 vols. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1975–2004.
   Albrecht Classen

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tristan and Isolde — Lovers in a medieval romance based on Celtic legend. The hero Tristan goes to Ireland to ask the hand of the princess Isolde for his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall. On their return the two mistakenly drink a love potion prepared for the king and… …   Universalium

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  • Tristan und Isolde — ( Tristan and Isolde , or Tristan and Isolda ) is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and… …   Wikipedia

  • Tristan und Isolde — Moderne künstlerische Darstellung: Anna Costenoble, Tristan und Isolde, 1900. Die Erzählung von Tristan und Isolde ist neben der vom Gral oder der von König Artus und seiner Tafelrunde einer der Stoffe, die von der erzählenden Literatur des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Tristan —    by Gottfried von Strassburg (ca. 1210)    GOTTFRIED VON STRASSBURG’s version of the TRISTAN story sets in with a highly significant prologue in which the narrator characterizes true love as a quasi eucharistic experience, possible only for… …   Encyclopedia of medieval literature

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