30th Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval Studies
Fordham University, Lincoln Center, New York City: March 27-28, 2010

Hanna Steinunn Thorleifsdóttir, "Shortened Norse Translations of French Romances"

The lapse of time between an original French work, its Norse translation and the Icelandic manuscripts containing the translation is important. Time tends to stand still between the 13th and the 15th centuries for the manuscript tradition in the West Northern area. A 15th century Icelandic manuscript could perfectly well contain a faithful text of a work dating from previous centuries. But on the other hand it could also preserve a reworking of that text.

Le Chevalier au Lion was written in the 12th century. But none of the surviving French manuscripts which preserve this work date as far back as that. Most in fact date from the 13th century and many of the variants between them somehow find their way into the Norse translation.

The translation of Le Chevalier au Lion, Ívens saga, has however been preserved in a shortened form. The same can be said of other Norse translations from the same period. The question is, what does this signify?

An attempt will be made to consider the question.


Last modified: Oct. 13, 2009
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