Tuesday, June 09, 2020

A surprise development

Two days ago I finished the first draft of the 13th century poem, Le Tournoi de Chauvency. As you can probably tell from the title, Le Tournoi is an account of a tournament. It's quite an entertaining piece, and one of the few detailed descriptions of a medieval tournament. But it has a few problems. There has been only a translation from Old French into modern French, by Dominique Henriot-Walzer, and so it is inaccessible to most readers.

A good few years back I decided to do something about this, in so far as I could. My knowledge of Old French is weak, and so a translation from OF to modern French wasn't practical. But I thought that a translation of Henrit-Walzer's French version into English might produce something that would allow Anglophones, at least, to enjoy Le Tournoi. This would be no great work of scholarship, but it would allow jousting fans of all sorts to get a taste of the High Medieval tournament, and meet the participants, the audience, and the organizers.

(Note: this is one of the great periods of jousting, though the question “Will a jouster read?” has yet to receive a definitive answer.)

Two days ago I shared my pleasure at getting close to this goal with my many correspondents. The next day, I found an announcement from Boydell and Brewer that they were publishing (Nov 2020) an English translation of not only Le Tournoi but another tournament account, The Romance of Le Hem.

What to do? Clearly the B&B book is going to be superior to my translation in a number of ways:
  • We can only hope that Nigel Bryant's French is better than mine :-)
  • His book will contain two texts rather than one
  • It will contain a scholarly apparatus
I think, however, that I will go ahead with my translation because I am willing to publish it very cheaply.

Real scholars will use the Bryant translation (at least I hope so), but  people who might be interested in the text but won't spend $65 on it will have this alternative.

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