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Ivor D. O. Arnold and Margaret Pelan, La partie arthurienne du roman de Brut (Extrait du manuscrit B.N. fr. 794). Paris : Klincksieck, 1962.

New edition, reflecting latest research : Arthur dans le Roman de Brut, 978-2252034019

Wace, an Anglo-Norman clerk, adapted in what is now considered Old French the HRB, and thereby created one of the earliest known works of fiction in French. However, it is yet impossible for Wace’s descendants (of which I am, in a sense!) to read it in their own vernacular since no integral French translation is available (an English one is: ISBN 978-0859897341). So instead of ploughing through the entire octosyllabic text, I decided to read only the Arthurian portion. It was a surprisingly easy (with qualifications…) endeavour, and a most rewarding one as well. Unlike Old English, Old French is still close enough to its modern equivalent that anyone with a good grasp on languages in general and some prior knowledge of the story will find its way. Knowledge of English is an asset too: a large amount of the English lexicon comes in fact from the French that was spoken by the Normans around the 1066 conquest, and they have not evolved the same way they later did on the continent, so that even today, many English words preserve the Old French forms. Wace is worth reading if you qualify for the challenge, but I recommend reading it only after a good acquaintance with the HRB.

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