Edited with a translation see Penguin Classics edition below. Kibler, William W. Original text with English translation See Penguin Classics edition below. Micha, Alexandre Ed. II: Cliges" Champion, Paris, Carroll Trans.
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He wrote in Champagne during the third quarter of the twelfth century. Of his life, we know neither the beginning nor the end. Yet, we know that between and he lived perhaps as herald-at-arms among the court of his patroness, the Countess Marie de Champagne. These romances, written in eight-syllable rhyming couplets, treat respectively of Erec and Enide, Cliges, Yvain, and Lancelot.
The other three poems mentioned are his entire. We are thus thrown back upon Latin or French literary originals which are lost, or upon current continental lore going back to a Celtic source. Not only was he alive to the literary interest of this material when rationalized to suit the taste of French readers, but he gave crude folk-lore that polish and elegance which is peculiarly French, and which is inseparably associated with the Arthurian legends in all modern literature.
Beyond question, the poets and the public alike knew this to be the case. Therein lay its charm for a society in which the actual relations of the sexes were rigidly prescribed by the Church and by feudal practice, rather than by the sentiments of the individuals concerned. He is to be read as a story-teller rather than as a poet, as a casuist rather than as a philosopher.
But when all deductions are made, his significance as a literary artist and as the founder of a precious literary tradition distinguishes him from all other poets of the Latin races between the close of the Empire and the arrival of Dante. Comfort in
Chrétien de Troyes
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