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Jaufre: An Occitan Arthurian Romance (review)
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REVIEWS Jaufre: An Occitan Arthurian Romance, translated by Ross G. Arthur. Garland Library of Medieval Literature. Series B. Vol. 88. New York and London: Garland Publishing Inc. , 1992. This fluent translation of a major Occitan work into English prose is a welcome addition to the Arthurian canon. The full text of Jaufre, here available unabridged, is an important and heretofore missing link in ourunderstanding ofcourtly romance and the transnational nature of medieval literature and art. Ross G. Arthur has based his translation on the two-volume edition by Clovis Brunei; Brunei used what is conventionally known as manuscript A, B.N.fr. 21645, the earlier of the two complete surviving manuscripts, but he emended and augmented the text guided by B.N.fr. 12571, conventionally manuscript B. Arthur states that he did not follow Brunei only "in a few cases where the reading inMSAhasjustificationswhich Brunei overlooked" (xlii). I found one such instance documented and would have preferred a complete list of changes. In the introduction, along with a succinct review ofmanuscripts, editions, and translations, Arthur includes a brief discussion of authorship and date which illustrates the particular problems faced by medievalists. Novice readers will learn a lot here. Nonetheless, there are some assertions here to which I would take exception. For example. ". . .what matters in a dedicatory prologue is notwhether its assertions are factual but whether they are the sorts of things that the full poetic and social context would allow" (xii). But, Arthur's arguments are generally clear and logical. The rest ofthe introduction is marred by a misplaced page: on the back ofpagexvii is found page xxviii. The missing page xviii is printed on the back of page xxvii. Unfortunately, this displacement includes a section heading, which only compounds the ill effects. Arthur intended to discuss Artistic Achievements, The Courts, Jaufre and War. and Jaufre in Love, one after the other. The content of the analytical sections, once reconstructed, is thoughtful and stimulating ; there are interesting interpretations to challenge or discuss, and the connections between the poem and its socio-historical setting provide a unifying theme. I would have liked more discussion of the romance's structure, for it is so well composed, but that is my critical bias, not Arthur's. 47 REVIEWS The translation itself is usually readable, especially in passages recounting action or activity, and. like all Garland volumes in Series B, is aimed at a very broad readership, of varying erudition and sophistication. My only reservation concerns Arthur's use of different English words for the same Occitan term. For example. Proesas becomes "bold" with adventures, then "brave deeds" or "exploits" in the Prologue. Pros is "bold or "worthy" in the same short passage. The English reader has no way of sensing important repetitions of a key medieval concept. Or. in another instance, is natural either "noble" or "precious"? Those who plan micro-interpretative textual analysis will want to verify the translation, and those using the book for teachingmay find this agood pretence forbringing in the original text for comparison. In conclusion, this volume is potentially of great use to those following Occitan studies. It will allow us to introduce a polished, cultivated text to general readers who can not read Occitan or French, old or modem. Students ofmedieval studies will have access to a work which will certainly surprise and entertain them. Although specialists have always known about the presence of courtly narrative in Occitan, generalists will now be able to acquire necessary hands-on experience with this important work. We can recommend it to colleagues who can thus come to know the Occitan world beyond the lyric. This bookwill be amajor tool in our outreach activities, no small asset in this age of the ubiquitous interdisciplinary curriculum! Ann Tukey Harrison Michigan State University WORK CITED Brunei, Clovis, ed. Jaufre. Paris: Société des Anciens Textes Français. 1943. 48 ...