The Pennsylvania State University
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Song of Roland

An Analytical Edition. Vol. II: Oxford Text and English Translation Gerard J. Brault
  • Copyright: 1978
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 292 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-00204-0
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-02319-9

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Published to observe the twelfth centenary of the Battle of Roncevaux, the event that inspired the Chanson de Roland, this edition provides the first systematic analysis of the entire poem. Professor Brault's edition also incorporates the considerable scholarly work done in the half century since the Bedier and Jenkins editions appeared.

The underlying theme of this new edition is that the poem is a Christian hero. As imagined by the poet Turoldus—writing about 1100, at the time of the First Crusade—Roland, the nephew of Charlemagne, had no faults and accomplished mighty deeds in warring against the Saracens. The introduction compares the known historical facts about the Battle of Roncevaux with the Roland legend, with various versions of the poem, and with the Oxford text. Christian thought and sensibility are shown to permeate the Chanson de Roland, in its character portrayal and narrative development, as well as in its tone and diction—and to provide its thematic unity and metaphorical consistency. Influences of the oral tradition of the chansons de geste are demonstrated, as are evidences of the accompanying gestures used by the jongleurs in interpreting these works.

The Commentary organizes discussion of the 4002 verses into 49 units. The method of analysis is eclectic, combining thematic criticism with philology, exegetical interpretation with iconography. The 66 illustrations, primarily from Romanesque works of art, clarify key passages

Gerard J. Brault is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor Emeritus of French and Medieval Studies and Fellow Emeritus of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at The Pennsylvania State University. He began his research for this landmark edition in 1968 while a Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright-Hays Research Scholar in Strasbourg, France. In 1978, the year it appeared, this work was selected by Choice: The Journal of the Association of College and Research Librarians as an Outstanding Academic Book. In 1985, Professor Brault was elected International President of the Société Rencesvals (pour l'étude des épopées romanes), the only American ever to serve in that office. The author of seven other books and more than a hundred articles, he is also internationally known for his research in medieval heraldry and in French-Canadian language and culture.

A graduate of Assumption College (Worcester, MA), which awarded him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 1976, Professor Brault received his MA at Laval University and his PhD in Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, the Heraldy Society of London, and the Académie Internationale d'Héraldique. In 1981, he was awarded the Ordre National du Mérite by the Government of France and, in 1987, the Ordre des Francophones d'Amérique by the Government of Quebec. In 1998, colleagues and students published Echoes of the Epic: Studies in Honor of Gerard J. Brault.

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La Chanson de Roland

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