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Four Arthurian Romances
Erec et Enide -- Cliges -- Yvain or, The Knight with the Lion -- Lancelot or, The Knight of the Cart
Chretien de Troyes was a French poet and trouvere who flourished in the late 12th century. Little is known of his life, but he seems to have been from Troyes, or at least intimately connected with it, and between 1160 and 1172 he served at the court of his patroness Marie of France, Countess of Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, perhaps as herald-at-arms (as Gaston Paris speculated). His work on Arthurian subjects represents some of the best regarded of medieval literature. Chretien de Troyes is generally considered as the first identified major French Language novelist.
Chretien's works include five major poems in rhyming eight-syllable couplets. Four of these are complete; Erec and Enide (c. 1170); Cligès (c. 1176), and Yvain, the Knight of the Lion and Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, both written simultaneously between 1177 and 1181. Chretien's final romance was Perceval, the Story of the Grail, written between 1181 and 1190, but left unfinished. It was composed for Philip, Count of Flanders, to whom Chrétien was attached in his last years. He finished only 9,000 lines of the work, but four successors of varying talents added 54,000 additional lines in what are known as the Four Continuations. Similarly, the last thousand lines of Lancelot were written by Godefroi de Leigni, apparently by arrangement with Chretien. In the case of Perceval, one continuer says the poet's death prevented him from completing the work, in the case of Lancelot, no reason is given. This has not stopped speculation that Chretien, medieval literature's greatest treater of matrimonial love, did not approve of Lancelot's adulterous subject.
- Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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