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Thinking Medieval Romance$
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Katherine C. Little and Nicola McDonald

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795148

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198795148.001.0001

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Music by Tristan

Music by Tristan

The Two Lais of Chèvrefeuille

(p.170) 9 Music by Tristan
Thinking Medieval Romance

Monika Otter

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the interplay between medieval Tristan romances and Tristan songs, music closely associated with the romances and indeed attributed to the character Tristan himself. In particular, the chapter looks at Marie de France’s lai ‘Chevrefoil’, and the anonymous thirteenth-century lai ‘Kievrefuel’, which is quite distinct from Marie’s narrative poem but evokes it in some particulars. The multiple relationships between different Tristan poems and Tristan tunes, intertwined and mutually evoking each other, allows us to ‘think [of] Romance’ as a larger, modular experience, a cultural game that can transcend an individual text and generate potentially limitless further texts. It also suggests a twelfth-century way of ‘thinking [with] Romance’ in a playful, creative way that both erases and accentuates the fictionality of the romance world and its characters.

Keywords:   Tristan, lai, music, songs, fictionality, Chevrefoil, Marie de France

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