Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Chapter 101

How Lasindo, Sir Bruneo of Bonamar’s squire, came with the message from his lord to the Marquis and to Branfil, and what they did. 

[Portrait of Henry, Duke of Lancaster (c.1310-1361), a founder of the Order of the Garter, wearing a blue Garter mantle over plate armor and surcoat with his arms. A framed tablet displays painted arms of successors in his Garter stall at St. George's Chapel, Windsor. From the Bruges Garter Book, made circa 1430 to 1440, probably in London.]

Lasindo, Sir Bruneo of Bonamar’s squire, arrived where the Marquis was, and when he gave him and Branfil the message from his lord, Branfil was so upset not to have participated in what those knights did and to not have been involved in Oriana’s rescue that he wanted to kill himself. And he knelt in front of his father and fervently asked him for the favor of ordering him to begin work on what his brother had asked for in his message. The Marquis, as he was a good knight and knew of the great friendship that his sons had with Amadis and all his lineage, whose honor and esteem was growing, told him:

“My son, do not be upset, for I shall fulfill everything completely, and I shall send thee, if it is necessary, with such a fine company of men that thine shall not be the worst.”

Branfil kissed his hands for that, then he ordered the fleet to be made ready along with men for it, as the Marquis was a great and very rich lord and there were many good knights and other well armed-men of war in his realm.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Chapter 100

How Gandalin came to Gaul and spoke to King Perion about what his lord had asked, and the reply he received. 

[King Baldwin V of Jerusalem in his sickbed and being crowned. From William of Tyre's Historia and Continuation, 13th century manuscript from Acre. Bibliotheque Nationale Française, Richelieu Manuscrits Français 2628.]

Know that Gandalin arrived at Gaul, where he was very well received for the good news about Amadis that he brought, for they had not received any information about him for a long time. Then he took the King aside and told him everything that his lord had ordered him to say, as ye have heard. And as this was a King so courageous that he feared no confrontation, regardless of how great, especially involving that son who was a shining example throughout the world and whom he loved so much, he said:

“Gandalin, what thou askest on behalf of thy lord shall be immediately done, and if thou seest him before I do, tell him that I would not consider him a knight if he were to have let that happen, because to great hearts are given great labors. And I tell thee that if King Lisuarte does not wish to be reasonable, it will be to his own harm. And take note that I ask thee to say nothing of this to my son Galaor who is here seriously ill, so ill that I have considered him more dead than alive, and who is still in great danger, and say nothing to his companion Norandel, who thou seest coming here, for I shall tell him myself.”

Gandalin told him:

“My lord, it shall be done as ye order. And I am very pleased to have been warned, for I would not have thought about it and might have erred.”

“Then go see him,” the King said, “and tell him the news about his brother, and be careful not to say anything about why thou hast come here.”

Gandalin went to the chamber where Galaor was so weak and so ill that Gandalin was astonished to see him thus. When he entered, he knelt to kiss his hands, and Galaor looked at him and recognized who he was. Tears of pleasure came to his eyes, and he said:

“My friend Gandalin, thou art very welcome. What canst thou tell me about my lord and brother Amadis?”

Gandalin told him:

“My lord, he is at Firm Island healthy and well, and with a great desire to see you. He does not know that  are ill, my Lord, nor did I until my lord the King told me, for I came here at Amadis’ orders to tell him and the Queen that he had arrived there. And when he learns of your state of health, he will be very sorrowful, as he loves and esteems you more than anyone else in his lineage.”

Norandel, who was there, embraced him and asked him how Amadis was, and he told him what he had said to Sir Galaor and some of the things that had happened in the islands of Romania and in other foreign lands.

Norandel said to Sir Galaor:

“My lord, with such news is this ye should rightly take strength and overcome your illness, because we are going to see that knight, and may God help me, he is such that if it were only to see him, all those who are worth anything ought to consider unimportant the difficulty of their journey, although it might be very long.”

And as they were talking and Galaor was asking Gandalin many questions, the King entered and took Norandel by the hand and, speaking of other things, took him from the chamber. And when they were where Sir Galaor could not hear them, the King told him:

“My good friend, ye ought to go immediately to your father the King, because according to what I have learned, he needs help from you and all his men. Do not be concerned about other quests, because I know for a fact that he will be well served by your arrival. And do not say anything about this to your friend Sir Galaor because it would upset him deeply, which could cause him a great deal of harm due to his frailty.”

Norandel told him:

“My lord, from such a good man as yourself one ought to take advice without questioning the reason, because I am certain it will be as ye say, and I shall bid farewell to Sir Galaor tonight and take to the sea tomorrow, for there I have my ship, which awaits me at all times.”

The King did this so that Norandel could comply with what he was obliged to for his father, and also so that he would not see the King ordering his men to prepare and sending word to his friends.

And so that day they were encouraged about Sir Galaor because he was happy with the news from his brother. Gandalin told the Queen what Amadis had asked of her, and she told him that everything with be carried out as he had been ordered to say.

“But my friend Gandalin,” the Queen said, “I am very upset by this news, because I understand that my son will be in great anxiety and then in great personal danger.”

“My lady,” Gandalin said, “do not be afraid, because he will have so many men that King Lisuarte and the Emperor of Rome will not dare to attack.”

“May it please God,” the Queen said.

When night came, Norandel said to Sir Galaor:

“My lord, I have decided that I must go because I see that your illness will be lengthy, and it would be best for me to attend to other things because, as ye know, I have been a knight for a short period of time, and I have not earned enough honor as needed for me to be considered worthy by men of any valor. When I learned about your illness, it took me from the road on which I was placed when I left the court of my father the King. Now I ought to go elsewhere for I am needed, and God knows the sorrow that my heart feels to not be able to remain in your company. But may it please God that in this period of time I may fulfill my duties and that ye shall be improved, and I shall make it my duty to come to you, and we shall go together in search of adventure.”

When Sir Galaor heard this, he sighed with great affliction and told him:

“My good lord, I do not know how to describe the pain that I feel at being unable to go with you, but, may it please God, since no other thing can be done, His will should be fulfilled as He wishes. I commend you to God, and if by chance ye see your father the King, my Lord, kiss his hands for me, and tell him that I remain in his service, although more dead than alive, as ye see, my lord.”

Norandel left his chamber, very sad over the illness of his loyal friend Sir Galaor. The next day he heard Mass with King Perion, and bid farewell to the Queen and her daughter and all the damsels and ladies, and the Queen commended him to God, as did her daughter and all the other ladies and damsels, as those who loved him dearly, and so he went out to sea. And here nothing is told about what happened to him other than that with good weather he arrived at Great Britain, and he went to where his father the King was, and by him and by everyone else there he was very well received as the fine knight that he was.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why Cervantes claimed he didn't write Don Quixote

You’ll get a lot of jokes in Don Quixote only if you’ve read Amadis of Gaul.

Photo by Sue Burke.

 In front of Spain's National Library in Madrid, a statue of Miguel de Cervantes stands with one foot resting on a pair of books. One of them is spine-out, and we can read its title: Amadís de Gaula (Amadis of Gaul).

In many ways, Cervantes satirizes (or pays homage to) that tale, including a characteristic element of novels of chivalry that began with Amadis of Gaul. An earlier version of Amadis had existed since the 1300s in the form of a three-book novel, but the only surviving version, by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, was different, as Montalvo himself explains in his prologue:

"I corrected these three books of Amadis, such as they could be read, due to poor writers or very corrupt and dissolute scribes, and I translated and added a fourth book and a sequel, Sergas de Esplandián, which until now no one has seen. By great good fortune, a manuscript was discovered in a stone tomb beneath a hermitage near Constantinople, and it was brought by a Hungarian merchant to eastern Spain in such ancient script and old parchment that it could only be read with much difficulty by those who knew the language."

Of course, Montalvo himself wrote the fourth book and Sergas de Esplandián (Exploits of Espandian). Why lie about it? Because, as he himself put it, the novel "had been considered rank fiction rather than chronicles." By proclaiming it an ancient story and perhaps even forgotten history rather than fiction, it could obtain the status of works by Homer and Cicero.

He didn't seem to have fooled anyone, but he did set a pattern. Supposedly, the manuscript for the sequel Lisuarte de Grecia (Lisuarte of Greece) by Juan Díaz (1514) had been written in Greek in Constantinople and taken to Rhodes when the city fell to the Ottomans. Amadis de Grecia (Amadis of Greece) by Feliciano de Silva (1530) had been found in a wooden box behind a wall in a cave in Spain, hidden during the Moslem invasion in 711. Silves de la Selva (Silves of the Jungle) by Pedro de Luján (1546) was encountered in the magical sepulcher of Amadis himself, written in Arabic.

And so on. Manuscripts were discovered in distant castles and during voyages to far-off lands. Some were written in Hungarian, Latin, Tuscan, German, Chaldean, and "Indian" (Sanskrit, perhaps). A few were even supposedly written by characters from earlier novels.

Among the many jokes in Don Quixote whose punchline we have forgotten today is the one in Chapter IX. It recounts how, in a market in Toledo, a boy was selling some old paper to be reused. Cervantes looked at one of the papers, a pamphlet, and it turned out to be part of the History of Don Quixote of La Mancha, written in Arabic by Cide Hamete Benengeli. He purchased a translation of the pamphlets for two pecks of raisins and two bushels of wheat. This discovered manuscript, Cervantes claimed, became the basis of the rest of the first part of his novel. Rather than being found in some exotic place after a search filled with drama, difficulty, and great cost, Don Quixote was supposedly rescued from the garbage and translated on the cheap.


A version of this article also appeared in Fall 2015 issue (pdf) of The Source, a quarterly publication of the American Translators Association Literary Division.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chapter 99

How the doctor Elisabad arrived in Grasinda’s realms and from there traveled to see the Emperor of Constantinople with the message from Amadis, and what he obtained. 

[Detail of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (Constantinople). Photo by Sue Burke.]

This story tells how the doctor Elisabad traveled by sea until he arrived at the lands of his lady Grasinda. There he ordered all the great men of the realm be called, and he showed them the orders that he brought from her, and he urged them to fulfill them immediately. They answered that it was their desire to comply even better than if she were present, and immediately ordered the recruitment of horsemen, crossbow men, archers, and other men of war, and they readied many ships and had other new ones built.

And when the doctor saw that things were being prepared well, he left a knight to oversee it, his young nephew, who was named Libeo, and asked him to put great care into his work. He returned to the sea and traveled to the Emperor of Constantinople. When he arrived, he went to his palace, and they told him that he was speaking with his noblemen. The doctor entered the hall and came to kneel before him and kiss his hands, and the Emperor received him with friendship because he had known him previously and believed he was a good man.

The doctor gave him the letter from Amadis, and when the Emperor read it, he was very surprised to learn that the Knight of the Green Sword was Amadis of Gaul, whom for long time he had wished to meet because of the amazing things told by so many of those who had seen him. He said:

“Doctor, I would be very angry with you if ye knew the name of that knight and did not tell me, because I would be ashamed if a man of such high estate and lineage and so famous throughout the world were to come to my house and not be received with the honors that he deserved, but only as a knight errant.”

The doctor told him:

“My lord, I swear by my holy orders that until he ceased to call himself the Greek Knight and made himself known to my lady Grasinda and to all of us, I never knew that he was Amadis.”

“What?” the Emperor said, “he called himself the Greek Knight after he left here?”

“Then, my lord, the news has not come to your court that he called himself the Greek Knight?”

“It is true,” the Emperor said. “I never heard about it until now.”

“Then ye shall hear great things,” he said, “if Your Mercy were to be pleased for me to tell you.”

“I would consider it very good if ye were to do so,” the Emperor said.

Then the doctor told how, after Amadis had left there, he arrived to where his lady Grasinda was and how, because of the boon that he had promised her, he took her by sea to Great Britain, and why and how before they arrived, he ordered that they call him only the Greek Knight; and of his battles in the court of King Lisuarte against Salustanquidio and the other two Roman knights who fought for the damsels, whom he defeated easily. And he also spoke of the Romans’ great arrogance, and how before the battle began they told King Lisuarte to let them fight the Greek Knight immediately, because when he knew he would have to fight them, he would not dare await them, because the Greeks feared the Romans like fire. He also told him about Sir Grumedan’s battle and how the Greek Knight left two knights there who were his friends and how they defeated the three Romans. He told him everything, and left nothing out, as one who had been present for all of it. Everyone who was there was amazed at the knight’s skill, and was very satisfied at how he had broken the Romans’ arrogance and given them such dishonor.

The Emperor praised him highly, and said:

“Doctor, now tell me your credentials, and I shall hear you.”

The doctor told him everything about the matter between King Lisuarte and his daughter, and why Amadis and those knights had rescued her at sea, and what had happened between King Lisuarte and his subjects, and how Oriana had sent letters of complaint everywhere about what a great injustice her father the King was doing to her so cruelly, disinheriting her without any reason from such a grand and honorable kingdom of which God had made her heiress, and how neither heeding his conscience nor having any mercy, wishing to make his younger daughter heiress to his kingdom, he delivered her to the Romans despite the weeping and sorrow of herself and all those who saw her.

And he told how because of these complaints and the Princess’s alarm, many knights errant of great lineage and high deeds at arms united, and he recounted the names of most of them, and how there at Firm Island they had found Amadis, who knew nothing about this, and there he took counsel with them about how to rescue the Princess, for such a great outrage as that should not come to pass. It was true that they were obliged to remedy the injuries done to damsels and ladies, for whom they had until then suffered many labors and dangers, so they were even more obliged in such a situation that was notable and manifest to all the world, and if they did not rescue her, not only would all the aid and remedy that they had given to other women be forgotten, but they would be dishonored forever and would not dare appear where other good men were.

And Elisabad told how they took a fleet to the sea and of the great battle they fought with the Romans, and how in the end the Romans were defeated and Salustanquidio, the Emperor’s cousin, was  killed; and Brondajel de Roca, the Duke of Ancona, and the Archbishop of Talancia were taken prisoner, among others who were killed or captured; and how they took the Princess and all her ladies and damsels and Queen Sardamira to Firm Island, and from there they had sent messengers to King Lisuarte asking that he cease to cause such cruelty and injustice to his daughter and allow her to return to his kingdom without any acrimony; if so, supplying all the security proper in such a case involving royalty, they would immediately send her along with all of the spoils and prisoners that they had taken.

And he told him what he was asking on behalf of Amadis, that in case King Lisuarte did not wish to agree to justice and instead remained firmly committed to his unwise principles, and if the Emperor of Rome came to his aid with the great quantity of fighting men, then, because His Mercy the Emperor of Constantinople was one of the principal ministers that God had placed on the Earth to maintain justice, especially since it was so widely known what had been done to such a virtuous Princess, for very good cause he should aid her; and in addition, provide help to the noble knight Amadis to put pressure on those who did not wish justice to be done, making sure that such an outrage and injury as that would not come to pass; for besides serving God that way and doing what the Emperor ought, Amadis and all his lineage and friends would be obliged to serve him all the days of his life.

When the Emperor had heard all that, he saw that the cause was great and the deed was grand, both because of its character and because he knew of the excellence of King Lisuarte and how he always maintained his honor and his fame, and also because he knew of the arrogance of the Emperor of Rome, who was more given to following his whims than wisdom or reason. And although he knew that this would not be solved without great acrimony, which he took seriously, he considered how those knights had justice on their side, and how Amadis had come from such a distant land to see him, and the Emperor had given him his word, although lightly and not said with the purpose that he had now taken it, he chose to consider his own grandeur and remember some of the arrogant deeds that the Emperor of Rome had done to him in the past.

He answered the doctor Elisabad:

“Doctor, ye have told me extraordinary things, and from such a good man as ye are everything ought and must be believed. Since the courageous Amadis has need of my help, I shall give it to him and fully comply with the word that he received from me; although it may have seemed light at the time, he may find it true and compelling, as the word from such a great man as myself given to such an honorable and outstanding knight as he ought to be, because nothing that I offer shall not be fulfilled.”

And all those who were present took great pleasure at how the Emperor had responded, above all his nephew Gastiles, who as ye have heard went to see Amadis when he was calling himself the Knight of the Green Sword and had killed the Endriago. He immediately knelt before his uncle the Emperor and said:

“My lord, if it pleases Your Mercy and if my services deserve it, do me this extraordinary favor: may it be I who is sent to help that noble and virtuous knight who has done so much to honor the crown of your empire.”

When the Emperor heard this, he told him:

“Good nephew, I grant you that, and I am pleased to do it, and I now send you and the Marquis Saluder to take charge of preparing a fleet that shall be of the proper quality as the grandeur of my estate requires, because in no other manner would I achieve honor. And if it is necessary, ye and he shall go with it and do battle against the Emperor of Rome as would be fit.”

Gastiles kissed his hands and took it as a great favor. And he did as he and the Marquis had been ordered. When the doctor Elisabad saw this, ye may well believe the pleasure that it gave him, and he said to the Emperor:

“My lord, for what ye have said to me I kiss your hands on behalf of that knight, and because I shall be the one to bring him that response, I kiss your feet, and because now there is much for me to do, may Your Mercy give me license to leave. If the Emperor of Rome calls up his men, since he is a man very given to such things, when he does, at that same time ye should call out your men so that they arrive in time to await them.”

The Emperor told him:

“Doctor, go with God, and leave these matters to me, for if they are necessary, then ye shall see who I am and the way in which I value Amadis.”

And so the doctor bid farewell to the Emperor, and he returned to the lands of his lady Grasinda.