Translation of Michelant’s Introduction to Der Roman von Escanor (1886): Part 1

IMG_0588Michelant writes: It is a delicate task to categorise the following work, to determine the genre to which it should belong, to assign the position that it occupies in the literature of the thirteenth century and to give it a title that suits it. This last question was without doubt resolved by the manuscript, but the loss of the first folio, of which there only remains a small fragment of four verses, has caused clues to disappear that could have been found there, and leaves us not knowing if the title was simply: Escanor, Le Bel Escanor or Le Roman d’Escanor; but nothing [better] could help to determine the genre of a poem that, if by the names of places, of people, and by the deeds it recounts seems to be closely associated with the romances of the Round Table, on the other hand, by the changes introduced in the characters, the multiplicity of episodes which at each instant stop the progress of action, it appears rather to fall into the class of adventure romances, works of pure fantasy which have no rules other than caprice and the author’s imagination. The great trend of the tales of the Round Table have sparked numerous imitations, such as Le Bel Inconnu [The Handsome Unknown], Méraugis de Portlesgues, Duremar le Gallois, in which the influence of the[se] traditions persists further and has left on them an impression on them more regular, more uniform, more near to the models, which has given them a great superiority; but these qualities cannot increase but by a comparison which will allow [me] to foreground the following summary.

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