La Chanson de Roland
By Gerard J. Brault (Editor)
(Penn State University Press, Paperback, 9780271003757, 245pp.)
Publication Date: October 1990
Categories: Continental European
Presented here for student use are the text and translation from Gerard Brault's acclaimed 1978 analytical edition of The Song of Roland, with a new introduction explicating the poem's historical and literary background and significance.
The text and a line-by-line prose translation are printed on facing pages. Professor Brault's editing of the Oxford text--including emendation of the scribe's obvious errors and new readings of garbled or partially obliterated words--has been commended for its accuracy (Speculum) and reliability (French Forum). His translation has been praised as "lively and dependable" (Romance Philology), "fluent and colloquial" (French Review), and "the most correct . . . in a modern vernacular" (Olifant).
Directed to the student of medieval culture and society, Professor Brault's introduction places La Chanson de Roland in the context of the French epic tradition, Charlemagne's Spanish campaign of 778, the legend of Roland, and the linguistic and literary issues raised by the Oxford text. Among topics covered are the debate over the "traditionalist" versus the "individualist" theory of composition, the relation between history and myth, the epic's reflection of prevailing social beliefs and values at the time of its composition (about 1100), and the literary devices employed by the unknown author. The introduction concludes with a note about special problems in editing and translating the Oxford text. An annotated bibliography introduces leading works relating to LaChanson de Roland.