Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Sir Tristrem

This is the version of Tristen and Isolde from the Auchinleck manuscript. It is a typical romance telling the story of perhaps the most famous couple in medieval literature. This version includes an episode where Tristrem disguises himself as a leper in order to get close to Ysonde. Brody sees this use of leprosy as an outward sign of Tristrem's carnal nature, however that does remove the disguise from its context somewhat. Given Ysonde is at the time trying to spurn the advances of Sir Canados and begins to go insane Tristrem's attempt to be near her by adopting the disguise of a leper is more romantic than Brody would have us believe. I think this version is going to need to be compared to other versions to get a more complete idea of the role leprosy plays in the romance.

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