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Anne Lister Folklore: Translating Folklore in the 13th century (37) RE: Folklore: Translating Folklore in the 13th century 27 Jul 18


There's evidence that Arthur was known in various parts of Britain and Europe before the Anglo-Norman poets. Geoffrey of Monmouth (not an Anglo-Norman, as best we can ascertain, although he worked with them) wrote his History of the Kings of Britain in Latin, basing it on earlier stories he had found or been told. There are mentions in chronicles much earlier again, and in the Welsh triad poems. Wace put the whole thing into Norman French, and later writers took it on, both in the Angevin kingdom and in Germany. But really, there's a lot about all of this available on the web... some of the troubadour poets were also mentioning characters from the Matter of Britain (writing in Occitan) quite early on and there's evidence in the form of some sculptures and mosaics in southern Italy that the stories had reached that far afield by the mid-12th century. The writer of the work I'm focussed on knew some stories we don't have any more, going by some of the references, and another work in Occitan from around the same time also lists a wonderful variety of stories, many of which we no longer know. Some scholars are also working on some manuscripts from the time of Al-Andalus which were written in a language they simply called "Roman" but in Arabic script. Some have been transcribed and contain stories clearly influenced by Arthurian material.
As to Aquitanian - unfortunately, we can only work on manuscripts which exist!
This particular obsession of mine was, as I said, well respected in Spain but didn't travel as a piece of storytelling to the English-speaking parts of the world. There's a very 19th century English adaptation based on a French adaptation (note that I'm not saying "translation"), and a very poor 1930s American version, but other than that it's just us medievalists. It did turn up in a metrical version in the Philippines, however ... probably taken over there by the Spanish.
However, I am taking it around as a piece of storytelling, and once the thesis is out of the way I shall be writing my own adaptation for that wonderful beast, the "general reader", because it's a rollicking good story!
As to Dante and a Turkish poet - why would that not have happened? It's clear that stories, poets, musicians and philosophers travelled throughout the earlier middle ages - why not in Dante's time?


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