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Yvain, or The Knight with the Lion

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This verse translation of Yvain; or, The Knight with the Lion brings to life a fast-paced yet remarkably subtle work often considered to be the masterpiece of the twelfth-century French writer Chrétien de Troyes. The creator of the Arthurian romance as a genre, Chrétien is revealed in this work as a witty, versatile writer who mastered both the soaring flight of emotion an This verse translation of Yvain; or, The Knight with the Lion brings to life a fast-paced yet remarkably subtle work often considered to be the masterpiece of the twelfth-century French writer Chrétien de Troyes. The creator of the Arthurian romance as a genre, Chrétien is revealed in this work as a witty, versatile writer who mastered both the soaring flight of emotion and the devastating aside and was as skillful a debater of the finer points of love as he was a describer of battles.


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This verse translation of Yvain; or, The Knight with the Lion brings to life a fast-paced yet remarkably subtle work often considered to be the masterpiece of the twelfth-century French writer Chrétien de Troyes. The creator of the Arthurian romance as a genre, Chrétien is revealed in this work as a witty, versatile writer who mastered both the soaring flight of emotion an This verse translation of Yvain; or, The Knight with the Lion brings to life a fast-paced yet remarkably subtle work often considered to be the masterpiece of the twelfth-century French writer Chrétien de Troyes. The creator of the Arthurian romance as a genre, Chrétien is revealed in this work as a witty, versatile writer who mastered both the soaring flight of emotion and the devastating aside and was as skillful a debater of the finer points of love as he was a describer of battles.

30 review for Yvain, or The Knight with the Lion

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle Dubois

    In the 12th century, Chrétien de Troyes wrote this story happening during the reign of King Arthur in the 6th century. A simple, but great adventure which I liked from the beginning: "In the past, King Arthur’s disciples were numerous and knew how to behave with honor, courtesy and generosity. This is no longer the case today. There are many who, wrongly, pretend to love while they don’t feel the slightest feeling. It’s very unfortunate to overwork Love and to make fun of it. " Each century has it In the 12th century, Chrétien de Troyes wrote this story happening during the reign of King Arthur in the 6th century. A simple, but great adventure which I liked from the beginning: "In the past, King Arthur’s disciples were numerous and knew how to behave with honor, courtesy and generosity. This is no longer the case today. There are many who, wrongly, pretend to love while they don’t feel the slightest feeling. It’s very unfortunate to overwork Love and to make fun of it. " Each century has its writers who regret the past centuries ... and I am part of them, just as Theophile Gautier (French poet and author from the 19th century) regretted the charming little marquises of the 18th century! And Chrétien de Troyes writes: "The courtesy of a dead person is worthier of interest than the vulgarity of a living one. " Have we ever read more biting replies? "When the knight Keu denigrates another knight of the court, the queen says to him: You are odious and disrespectful. And Keu answers: Madam, if your presence among us is not a blessing, at least make sure it’s not a nuisance! Then Colegrant speaks: We cannot prevent the manure from stinking and Keu from being odious! " Personally, I love this frankness! 😊 And can we refrain from thinking of Rabelais when de Troyes describes this character more than picturesque: "A big head, tousled hair, ears big and hairy like those of an elephant, thick eyebrows, flattened face, owl’s eyes, a cat's nose, mouth slit like that of a wolf, sharp and yellow boar's teeth, a red beard, the chin directly welded to the bust, a long, curved and hunched spine. " Who can’t feel that the author has feasted to write this description! Besides, Chrétien de Troyes is full of humour. Listen to what the knight answers to the previous character who asks him who he is: "I am an errant knight in search of what I cannot find. I searched a lot, but in vain. " There is parody here, or my name is not Gabrielle Dubois! But de Troyes also writes some truths: "It is not the one who gives the first shot that triggers the fight, but the one who replies. " And he also knows how to talk about love: "Injury of love is more durable than a spear blow. " (I’m not sure at all about my English, here…! And then, from time to time, there are small morals, precursor of Jean de Lafontaine: "Like all the preachers who are only liars and preach a moral they don’t practice, I offer you advices that I would be unable to follow." It reminds us that if costumes change, men remain the same. Finally, isn’t there in Yvain, the Knight with the Lion all the ingredients of a good story, if not a tale? Proud knights, beautiful ladies, cracked skulls from which the blood drips in waves, horses sliced in half by iron gates like guillotines, battles between knight and giant where the comparisons between the flesh of men and the meat of the butcher is at the same time bloody and comical: blood-red humor! There are also humans looking like animals, rings giving the power of invisibility, and spells. But can someone tell me what did Tolkien invent? 😉 And if men are knights, brave or coward, women, who don’t have the leisure to go to war, have more time to make their minds work. The way Lady Laudine and her maid Lunette (who leads the game) lead the whole court to their idea is worthy of the greatest minds. What more can I tell you? Even death is picturesque in this story: "A lord, having had a dispute with death, was compelled to succumb. " So, open your heart and your ears at once, for the wind is quick to carry away the words you only hear. And what will you hear in this book? That a great question is asked: who is the most devastating among men : love or war? Then, tell around you about these knights, for, as Chrétien de Troyes writes so maliciously, "what’s the point to perform feats if we don’t make them know? " "what’s the point to perform feats if they are not known? "

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bryn Greenwood

    I loved this translation nearly as much as I love the original text. Cline has a great ear for rhyme and rhythm, captures the breathless excitement of Yvain’s battle with Sir Esclados perfectly.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mia

    The great thing about classics like this one is that we’ve gained this great reverence for them, maybe just by virtue of how old and enduring they are, but so often if you actually take the time to read them you find they’re quite entertaining. To people in Chrétien de Troyes’ time, the idea of studying “low entertainment” like this would’ve been absurd—and yet I’m writing an essay on this very book for my Western Classics in Translation class. When you get past the pretence that capital-C Class The great thing about classics like this one is that we’ve gained this great reverence for them, maybe just by virtue of how old and enduring they are, but so often if you actually take the time to read them you find they’re quite entertaining. To people in Chrétien de Troyes’ time, the idea of studying “low entertainment” like this would’ve been absurd—and yet I’m writing an essay on this very book for my Western Classics in Translation class. When you get past the pretence that capital-C Classics are complicated books for big-brained lit majors, there’s a lot of fun to be had. Like Yvain, in which our titular knight really just manufactures his own problems and then laments them. He kills a giant, adopts a lion, and fights a bunch of people but for seemingly no other reason than that it’s something to do. And there’s this side plot about Love and the pain of losing it and whatever but the only reason Yvain’s lover broke up with him is because he couldn’t bring himself to stop jousting all the goddamn time. It’s fun and it’s dumb and I love that I was so apprehensive about reading a twelfth century French chivalric romance only for it to turn out to be little more than a rollicking bedtime story.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anna Groover

    Things this medieval romance made me want to do: befriend a lion who then follows me around like a loyal dog; unknowingly battle my BKBF (Best Knight Bro Forever) until the sun sets and we have to stop fighting and ONLY THEN realize that it's my BKBF and not some random knight; and, of course, go feral and live in the woods thanks to my wife breaking my heart because I broke a promise to her Things this medieval romance made me want to do: befriend a lion who then follows me around like a loyal dog; unknowingly battle my BKBF (Best Knight Bro Forever) until the sun sets and we have to stop fighting and ONLY THEN realize that it's my BKBF and not some random knight; and, of course, go feral and live in the woods thanks to my wife breaking my heart because I broke a promise to her

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mark Adderley

    This is probably Chrétien de Troyes' greatest poem, beautifully translated into English octosyllabic couplets by Ruth Harwood Cline. The story concerns the young knight Yvain who, having killed the Knight of the Fountain, falls in love with the knight's late wife, Laudine. So that's a bit of an awkward situation. Eventually, Laudine's lady-in-waiting, Lunete, is able to persuade Laudine to marry Yvain, as he will be able to protect her realm against an impending invasion. The invasion turns out t This is probably Chrétien de Troyes' greatest poem, beautifully translated into English octosyllabic couplets by Ruth Harwood Cline. The story concerns the young knight Yvain who, having killed the Knight of the Fountain, falls in love with the knight's late wife, Laudine. So that's a bit of an awkward situation. Eventually, Laudine's lady-in-waiting, Lunete, is able to persuade Laudine to marry Yvain, as he will be able to protect her realm against an impending invasion. The invasion turns out to be by King Arthur, and not a threat at all. But Yvain asks if he can leave for a year to attend tournaments and other knightly exercises. When he forgets to return to Laudine at the end of the year, his trials begin. This really is Chrétien at his best. The character psychology is plausible, the soliloquies and allegorical representations of their conflicted emotions don't get in the way of the story (as they sometimes do in Chrétien's Lancelot: Or, the Knight of the Cart). Most of all, Yvain's suffering once he has been rejected by Laudine, his humility before her, and the painfulness of her slow and somewhat ambiguous forgiveness all mark this as a romance of unequalled sensitivity. Chrétien de Troyes is unusual among medieval romancers. Most Arthurian romances end with the marriage of the protagonist to a beautiful lady. In this romance, and in Chrétien's Erec and Enide, marriage occurs a third of the way into the story, enabling Chrétien to write a story about the pitfalls and trials of one of life's greatest adventures, marriage.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Ok, I'm no expert. These are French remakes of Arthurian tales, and many pages are spent on courtly love and wealth. The adventures are exciting, but nothing like you might expect. Ok, I'm no expert. These are French remakes of Arthurian tales, and many pages are spent on courtly love and wealth. The adventures are exciting, but nothing like you might expect.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cody

    I bought this book by accident, to be perfectly honest with all of you. I was thinking it was a play by some author I forget, and instead I bought this story by Chretien de Troyes and imagine my surprised when I received the wrong book in the mail... I'm not sad about it, mind you. No, I'm quite thankful that the fates stepped in and gave me this book. I have never read such a story of high adventure and knighthood in my life. Yvain/Ywain, the main character, is a knight in King Arthur's court. Y I bought this book by accident, to be perfectly honest with all of you. I was thinking it was a play by some author I forget, and instead I bought this story by Chretien de Troyes and imagine my surprised when I received the wrong book in the mail... I'm not sad about it, mind you. No, I'm quite thankful that the fates stepped in and gave me this book. I have never read such a story of high adventure and knighthood in my life. Yvain/Ywain, the main character, is a knight in King Arthur's court. You follow this knight on all kinds of adventures that include dragons, giants, devils, and evil knights. Plus, he has a lion for a companion. That's just awesome... This is one of the French poems written by Chretien de Troyes in the 15th century (I believe) about the adventures of the knights of King Arthur. I definitely recommend it! It's super fun!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Othy

    A wonderful version of a spectacular romance. I'm partial to the Welsh version Owein better, and have had my problems with Chretien's romantics, but for Yvain the tale is really beautifully told. Cline's translation is poetic, and as I do not know any Old French, I'm not sure if it's very accurate. Still, it is very good, without too many forced modernisms, and sounds very good. A wonderful version of a spectacular romance. I'm partial to the Welsh version Owein better, and have had my problems with Chretien's romantics, but for Yvain the tale is really beautifully told. Cline's translation is poetic, and as I do not know any Old French, I'm not sure if it's very accurate. Still, it is very good, without too many forced modernisms, and sounds very good.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Morganu

    Everybody says that Lancelot is the best but! I like more Yvain!!!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emma Getz

    I wish i had a pet lion

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Peters

    Absolutely F E R A L

  12. 4 out of 5

    Wes Spence

    This was a little out of my usual reading material but as Yvain (Owen) is my son’s namesake I wanted to explore what made him such a popular knight. I thought a book of French poetry would be more of a struggle, but the translation quickly transported me to Camelot. Between his marital issues (forgetting as he was on adventures), how he gained his lion/best friend, to defeating the Giant that threatened to give the local princess to his henchman, this was a really fun read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Having taught this twice and had it pop up in two or three classes I've taken, I feel like I'm pretty familiar with this text--and yet I keep getting surprised by it. I'm not a huge Arthurian lit fan, and I'm definitely not a French Romance fan, but this has so many layers that it's fascinating. You have to read the endnotes of this version, you just do; the sarcasm and brilliance of Troyes are just scathingly wonderful. The translation is really good, as well, in terms of ease of reading and rh Having taught this twice and had it pop up in two or three classes I've taken, I feel like I'm pretty familiar with this text--and yet I keep getting surprised by it. I'm not a huge Arthurian lit fan, and I'm definitely not a French Romance fan, but this has so many layers that it's fascinating. You have to read the endnotes of this version, you just do; the sarcasm and brilliance of Troyes are just scathingly wonderful. The translation is really good, as well, in terms of ease of reading and rhythm without being too sing-songy. (I've not read the Old French, so I can't speak to faithfulness.) The introduction is short and helpful, which is what introductions should be, and the story is allowed to be itself, which is the best kind of translation. I recommend it highly if you're looking for a teaching text, but I also recommend it just to read. Sex, fights, and really strange monsters--sure, what's not to like?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ethan

    the themes are boring and it literally sounds like a second grader wrote it both in terms of plot (and how quickly conflict is resolved) and also syntax. 3 stars for entertainment value and the fact that i can't quite figure out how to analyze the portrayal of women in this and anything that i can't figure out i love the themes are boring and it literally sounds like a second grader wrote it both in terms of plot (and how quickly conflict is resolved) and also syntax. 3 stars for entertainment value and the fact that i can't quite figure out how to analyze the portrayal of women in this and anything that i can't figure out i love

  15. 5 out of 5

    Merey Merey

    Bought this book in a run down used bookstore in the French Quarter. Should have read it by now.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Luke

    I really enjoyed this book! A brilliant peace of French literature that had me turning the pages until the end. Also I wish I had a faithful lion like Yvain. That was my favorite part.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laurie-Ève

    3.5 stars

  18. 4 out of 5

    M F

    yvain: ultimate cat person, very gay for gawain, makes poor life choices because of peer pressure and bad timekeeping

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anna Jo

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Book five the knight with lion by creiton de troyes Book title t No new authors last name Up to date titles: b,e,l,o,t Up to date on authors last names a, c, h, w Rating 2/5 Summary: in King Arthur's Court a story is told about a knight who goes to a magical fountain and the biggest storm ever takes place. You vain a knight who is curious decides to go to this fountain. He gets in a couple of fights and ends up killing someone. He then seeks Refuge in nearby Castle thanks to a maiden who gives him a Book five the knight with lion by creiton de troyes Book title t No new authors last name Up to date titles: b,e,l,o,t Up to date on authors last names a, c, h, w Rating 2/5 Summary: in King Arthur's Court a story is told about a knight who goes to a magical fountain and the biggest storm ever takes place. You vain a knight who is curious decides to go to this fountain. He gets in a couple of fights and ends up killing someone. He then seeks Refuge in nearby Castle thanks to a maiden who gives him a ring that makes me invisible. The castle belongs to little Maiden whose husband was murdered by yvain in the end the night goes through many battles and trials with a lion and lives happily ever after what that meaning Maiden whose husband he murdered. What I thought of it. A thought occurred to me today. So far this year I am not reading very many books I like. This one has been the worst. It's weird because I liked Eric and in need and I thought it was interesting. This one was just so hard to get into. I don't know if it was the tone or just what happened. Plus the majority of the story I was like confused. Plus I feel like there was a lot of unnecessary drama. I mean a woman holds a grudge on her husband for staying longer than he planned even though he didn't mean to? Come on out really? But the lion part was really cute I liked that he had feelings. And the whole sisters thing now it's just strange and I felt like it came out of nowhere. And also it took your vein admitting he was wrong for his wife to forgive him for something that really wasn't his fault in the first place? And the author just ends there? They don't go back to court or anyting? I really do hope the next story will be better. Otherwise this will be a long semester

  20. 4 out of 5

    Paul Spence

    I had never heard of this knight until one of my sons recommended it to me, since his son has the same name (albeit the English translation Owen). While written as French poetry in the 12th century, one could be put off and categorize it as....BORING. However, the translator of this edition did an outstanding job of not only making it palatable for a modern English reader, but highly interesting. The tales are classics focused on fighting, valor, chivalry and other heroics. For a fresh view on C I had never heard of this knight until one of my sons recommended it to me, since his son has the same name (albeit the English translation Owen). While written as French poetry in the 12th century, one could be put off and categorize it as....BORING. However, the translator of this edition did an outstanding job of not only making it palatable for a modern English reader, but highly interesting. The tales are classics focused on fighting, valor, chivalry and other heroics. For a fresh view on Camelot, give it a try!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Iamthesword

    Stating the obviously first: A book from the 1170s is very different from what I am used to read. There is a story arch, but it serves more as a fastener for a series of short episodes which tell Yvain's adventures. The connection between them are sometimes just "and then" - but this might also be due to the fact that my version was a shortened one... From today's viewpoint, the art of story telling is not too muched developed - we are always told at once whether a new character is good or bad an Stating the obviously first: A book from the 1170s is very different from what I am used to read. There is a story arch, but it serves more as a fastener for a series of short episodes which tell Yvain's adventures. The connection between them are sometimes just "and then" - but this might also be due to the fact that my version was a shortened one... From today's viewpoint, the art of story telling is not too muched developed - we are always told at once whether a new character is good or bad and they always act in only one way: Knights are courageous, vilains are evil and women.....exist (with one notable exception - she's perhaps the smartest character in the book). It's, well, medieval in a lot of ways. But I still enjoyed reading it. The way it is written is so different that the tales become even more distant to my experience. They become mythical - which serves the tales of knights, giants, demons and fair maidens. As mythical tales from a world that might or might not have ever existed, they work quite well and whilst not being a great revelation, it was a fun read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jose Portillo

    3 STARS Had to read it for Spanish class. Never read a medieval book before, guess why I wasn't into the writing and narrative style. The book really didn't have a plot, it was just like a compilation of Yvain's adventures, which is fine but I guess it was a bit too repetitive. Once again, never read a book as old so I'm not used to the style which made it really hard to get into it and enjoy it. Still, it wasn't that bad, I'm just not used to reading this sort of books. I love history, though, s 3 STARS Had to read it for Spanish class. Never read a medieval book before, guess why I wasn't into the writing and narrative style. The book really didn't have a plot, it was just like a compilation of Yvain's adventures, which is fine but I guess it was a bit too repetitive. Once again, never read a book as old so I'm not used to the style which made it really hard to get into it and enjoy it. Still, it wasn't that bad, I'm just not used to reading this sort of books. I love history, though, so I liked the medieval setting and atmosphere.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Kenney

    Probably the most fun of all Chretien's romances, and a source for Mozart's Magic Flute. Yvain's trespasses at the beginning result in his self-inflicted punishment, but also grant him the strangest of allies -- a lion who seems to have human, or at least canine, feelings. One of the first real male -female friendships I know of in western literature, too! Lunete is a great character -- and in the end, to find his name again and restore his reputation and his marriage (to Laudine), can Yvain res Probably the most fun of all Chretien's romances, and a source for Mozart's Magic Flute. Yvain's trespasses at the beginning result in his self-inflicted punishment, but also grant him the strangest of allies -- a lion who seems to have human, or at least canine, feelings. One of the first real male -female friendships I know of in western literature, too! Lunete is a great character -- and in the end, to find his name again and restore his reputation and his marriage (to Laudine), can Yvain rescue her and perform another heroic task on the same day?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    First novel of the schoolyear read! Note that I didn't read this version, which is the original in verse. I read the adapted version in prose, but there's no seperate Goodreads thing for it. My first experience with French medieval literature and I quite enjoyed the discussions we had on it in class! Three stars only because I have no point of reference, since I've never read any other (French) medieval literature. First novel of the schoolyear read! Note that I didn't read this version, which is the original in verse. I read the adapted version in prose, but there's no seperate Goodreads thing for it. My first experience with French medieval literature and I quite enjoyed the discussions we had on it in class! Three stars only because I have no point of reference, since I've never read any other (French) medieval literature.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Branden Meyers

    The author practically invented Arthurian romance as a genre with this, as well as laying the groundwork for what would eventually become the novel. He also addressed many of the complexities of the code of chivalry within this piece. Very influential and important even today, and an enjoyable story to read as well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dolphin

    It's a very good book, I like it a lot. Thick and rich, esp. when coming from Le Morte d'Arthur. It goes over the characters' feelings in a way that can be sickly, or verbose, or irritating, but by the end I'd warmed to it, and you can feel the author really speaking to you, which is either good or bad. It's a very good book, I like it a lot. Thick and rich, esp. when coming from Le Morte d'Arthur. It goes over the characters' feelings in a way that can be sickly, or verbose, or irritating, but by the end I'd warmed to it, and you can feel the author really speaking to you, which is either good or bad.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kings, knights, damsels (yes, real damsels!). So happy to be so far removed from this in my own actuality. A book to be read only if you are really interested in the chivalry of late Medieval time. If there is reincarnation, Sir Walter Scott is Chretien.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brianna

    An initial overview of the plot gets my feminist hackles up. However, the story goes on and, like most arthuriana, there are other readings to take. The story of Yvain is an engaging interplay of misunderstandings and quests for redemption.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alisha

    -"If we haven't Gained by your presence, allow us, Please not to lose." -That I felt myself filled with pleasure And hoped I might never again Need to move. -For hunger is a lovely, well-made Sauce for any food. -"If we haven't Gained by your presence, allow us, Please not to lose." -That I felt myself filled with pleasure And hoped I might never again Need to move. -For hunger is a lovely, well-made Sauce for any food.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Philip Zaborowski

    Yvain is a twelfth century Arthurian Romance which is essentially about the great lengths a man will go to, in order to avoid apologizing after he's clearly screwed up. And people tell me medieval literature isn't relateable enough... Yvain is a twelfth century Arthurian Romance which is essentially about the great lengths a man will go to, in order to avoid apologizing after he's clearly screwed up. And people tell me medieval literature isn't relateable enough...

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