Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chapter 40 [final part]

[How Briolanja's love placed Amadis in great danger.]

[This stained glass window in Segovia Castle depects King Enrique III of Castilla and his family. He reigned from 1390 to 1406, when the Trastámara version of Amadis of Gaul was written.]  


[Translator's note: The following section will seem very confusing without some information about the history of this novel. Three versions of Amadis of Gaul are known to exist.

The first was written during the reign of King Alfonso XI of Castilla, between 1312 and 1350; the second during the early years of the Trastámara dynasty in Castilla, that is, after 1369; and the third by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo at the end of the 1400s. Montalvo's is the only version that still exists, but we know some things about the earlier versions.

The first version encompasses what is now Book I (Chapters 0 - 43) and Book II (Chapters 44 - 64). The second version adds Book III (Chapters 65 - 81). Montalvo's version adds Book IV (Chapters 82 - 133).

Rodríguez de Montalvo said he "corrected" poor copies of the earlier versions, but in general he made few intrusive changes to Book I, except in this section of this chapter, as ye shall see. It deals with an incident in which Briolanja falls so deeply in love with Amadis that she wants to bear his child.

As Montalvo explains (but not very well, and worse, his explanation violates the chronological order of the story), the first version of the novel initially said that Amadis refused Briolanja because he loved Oriana with total loyalty, but Prince Alfonso of Portugal (1289-1329) ordered the story rewritten so that he acquiesced; that is, the first version told the story two ways, both of which Montalvo considered unlikely.

The story in the second version, the Trastámara version, was more complex and involved a boon and a tower, but Amadis did not acquiesce until Oriana granted permission. (The Trastámara version also seems to have added the mysterious knight who appeared earlier in this chapter and defeated Amadis, Agrajes, and Galaor in jousts; he will turn out to be important.)

But Montalvo doesn't like either of those versions (two-and-a-half versions, actually). He tells his own version, in which Briolanja releases Amadis and then decides to marry Sir Galaor because Galaor looks so much like his brother Amadis that she can imagine he is Amadis.

After bothering us with this intrusive and unnecessary explanation, Montalvo never actually recounts this amorous incident in detail in Chapter 42 where it should have appeared because "it has already been told to you."]

Amadis and Agrajes, after separating from Sir Galaor, rode hard for several days until they arrived at a castle called Torin where the beautiful girl and Grovenesa were, and on the way they did many great deeds of chivalry.

When the lady learned that Amadis was coming, she was very happy, and she came to him with many ladies and damsels, bringing the beautiful girl by the hand, and when they saw him they received him well. But I tell you that at this time the girl was so beautiful that she seemed like nothing less than a shining star, and they were very surprised, for she was nothing like she had been when Amadis had first seen her. He said to Agrajes:

"How does this damsel seem to you?"

"It seems to me that if God had wished to make her beautiful, He fulfilled His will in every way."

The lady said:

"My lord Amadis, Briolanja thanks you deeply for having come and for what shall now be done with the help of God. Disarm yourselves and rest."

Then they were brought to a room, where they left their arms, and wearing cloaks, they returned to the hall where they were being awaited. As they spoke with Grovenesa, Briolanja looked at Amadis, and he seemed to be the most handsome knight she had ever seen. And so he was, though he was only twenty years old and his face had been marked by injuries, but considering how well he had earned those scars and how they had made his fame and honor bright and shining, they made him seem even handsomer.

The sight of him struck her so deeply that the beautiful girl fell completely in love with him, and for a very long time her heart never ceased to think of him. When she recovered her kingdom, as shall be told farther on, her spirit could not resist, and she immediately sought to have him be the lord of both her kingdom and her person. When Amadis learned this, he made it fully known through his many tears of anguish and suffering that he felt great loyalty to his lady Oriana. However, Prince Alfonso of Portugal, having pity on this beautiful damsel, ordered it written otherwise, but what was written was not what in fact happened with their love.

Their love was told in another way that can more reasonably be believed. When Briolanja was restored to her reign, Amadis and Agrajes stayed there to rest, for they had been injured, and she remained in love, but she saw that her mortal desires had no effect. She spoke privately and in secret with the damsel to whom Amadis, Galaor, and Agrajes had promised boons in exchange for guiding Sir Galaor to where the knight of the forest had gone, for by then Galaor had returned from that trip. Briolanja revealed her situation to the damsel and, with many tears, asked for help for her growing passion. The damsel, who felt sorry for her mistress, asked Amadis to fulfill her boon by remaining in a tower until he had engendered a son or daughter in Briolanja and the child had been given to her.

Amadis, to keep his word, remained in the tower as he had been asked, but he did not wish to be conjoined with Briolanja, and failed to eat or sleep until his life was in great danger. When it became known in the court of King Lisuarte that he was in such straits, his lady Oriana, in order to save his life, sent him orders to do what the damsel had asked of him. Amadis, with this permission and thinking that he could not leave any other way and still keep his word, took the beautiful Queen as his lover and left twins, a son and daughter, in her womb.

But neither the one story nor the other was true. Briolanja, seeing how Amadis was in fact dying in that tower, ordered the damsel to free him from his boon, but asked that he not leave until Sir Galaor returned, wishing that her eyes could enjoy the sight of that handsome and famous knight, for otherwise she would have been left in deep gloom and darkness. This story can be more justly believed because this famous Queen was married with Sir Galaor, as the fourth book shall tell.

Thus, as ye hear, Amadis and Agrajes waited in that castle for provisions to be prepared, which they would need on the journey to go and fight the battle.

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