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April 14 , 2011

The Romance of Tristan

The Tale of Tristan's Madness


One of the earliest extant versions of the Tristan and Yseut story, Beroul's French manuscript of The Romance of Tristan dates back to the middle of the twelfth century. It recounts the legend of Tristan, nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, and the king's Irish wife Yseut, who fall passionately in love after mistakenly drinking a potion. Their illicit romance remains secret for many years, but the relentless suspicion of the king's barons and the fading effects of the magic draught eventually lead to tragedy for the lovers. While Beroul's work emphasizes the impulsive and often brutal behaviour of the characters, its sympathetic depiction of two people struggling against their destiny is one of the most powerful versions of this enduringly popular legend.

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