Tristan and Isold by Joseph Bedier - Stylo à bille

Tristan and Isold by Joseph Bedier

Tristan and Isold by Joseph Bedier

by styleabille , July 29, 2019

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Love stories come in different shapes and forms. I have read love stories from ancient ages and other modern ones. What I miss in the stories of the XX century is the enigma. I will be reviewing a legend from the Middle Age. It may not seem relatable. However, it is. In many ways.

The story of Tristan and Isold (also written Iseult) was written back in the XII century as one of the most favos Celtic legends. It has been brought to us by Joseph Bedier at the end of the XIX century (among a number of other adaptations yet the same plot).

This legend is influential. It goes back to the medieval age. It is a love triangle between the hero, his uncle, and his uncle’s wife.

I read this book long ago. However, it is a story that is worth being read all over again. It talks about an adulterous love between Tristan and the Irish princess Isold.

Tristan goes to Ireland after he defeats an Irish Knight. His purpose was to bring Isold for his uncle to marry. However, a potion was ingested; Tristan and Isold fall in love. In some editions, the potion appears to last a lifetime; in others it lasts three years. There is also a diversion as to whether the potion is ingested accidentally or deliberately (by Isold).

Isold still marries Tristan’s uncle. However, she loves Tristan and he loves her back. Tristan is portrayed in the story as Arthurian living by the faith in God, honor, and loyalty. The potion must have freed Tristan from guilt. He is not ashamed of his love towards Isold.

Behind the façade of innocence, it was difficult to uncover the couple.

One day, the couple is discovered and the uncle entraps his nephew and Isold: he decides to hang Tristan and burn Iseult.

I will not disclose the end of a sad and beautiful story.

It is worth reminding that Tristan and Isold underpin the story of Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot.

Most reviews relate the book to the cinematographic adaptation. What I will do instead is share with you the Prelude by Wagner. This s an opera I highly recommend. What intrigued me is the composer’s inspiration by his personal affair (with Mathilde). This prelude was known as the peak of the operatic repertoire: it is ambiguous and colorful. It also portrays perfectly well the notion of “destruction and death” (review coined by George Bernard Shaw).

I am glad I refreshed my memory. This was a mandatory book at my school. As I read it again, I recalled how insatiable it is.

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