“A new translation into modern English of an important and influential set of Old French epic poems. Humorous and human, complete with love interest and combat, trickery and travel, these stories follow the fictional history of Charlemagne’s family in what is now Western Europe.”—Leslie Zarker Morgan, coeditor of Approaches to Teaching the “Song of Roland”
“This is the work of distinguished scholars who know the Old French texts well and who are sensitive translators. It is an important text that will appeal to scholars and advanced students and can be used in courses at any level.”—Norris J. Lacy, coeditor of The Romance of Arthur: An Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translation
While most English-language readers are familiar with Old French epic poetry, or chansons de geste, through the Song of Roland and its tale of gallant martyrdom, this volume provides a broader and richer view of the tradition by introducing songs devoted to the exploits of a different sort of hero—the brave and blustery William of Orange. An Old French Trilogy provides an updated English translation of three central poems from the twelfth-century Guillaume d’Orange cycle.
In The Coronation of Louis, the hero saves both king and pope from would-be usurpers and earns the nickname “Short-Nosed William” after a fierce, disfiguring battle with a Saracen giant. In A Convoy to Nîmes and The Conquest of Orange, William conquers two important cities and wins the love of the Saracen Queen Orable. Tremendously popular in the Middle Ages, these works stand the test of time, and the accessible translations capture the sense of the original Old French decasyllabic verse without attempting to preserve or imitate its formal properties. The introduction to the volume discusses literary devices and motifs; historical context; issues of religious conflict, otherness, and gender roles; and themes such as loyalty and courage. Catherine M. Jones is Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of French and Provençal at the University of Georgia. She is the author of An Introduction to the Chansons de Geste. William W. Kibler is professor emeritus of French at the University of Texas at Austin. His many books include The Lancelot-Grail Cycle: Text and Transformations. Logan E. Whalen, professor of French at the University of Oklahoma, is the author of Marie de France and the Poetics of Memory.