Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Bankcroft fragments

A hint at an earlier version of the novel. 

One of the four fragments at the Bankcroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley.


We know that a two-book version of Amadis of Gaul existed in Spain in the early 1300s; a three-book version was written at the end of the 1300s; and a four-book version was created by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo and published in 1508. He said he “corrected” the earlier version, but since all we have is the 1508 edition, we don’t know exactly what he corrected.

However, four fragments from a version written in about 1420 (judging from the handwriting) were discovered in 1956 in the binding of another book. Pieces of pages from old books that were deemed useless were often used to bind new books centuries ago.

One of the fragments, the most complete, is from Chapter 68. Here is a translation of the Rodríguez de Montalvo version from 1508, then a translation of the 1420 version, and finally a transcription of the 1420 text. (Punctuation had not yet been invented.)

1508 version

Then he took a sturdy lance from the squire who had given him the horse, and thinking of Oriana and the great loss she would suffer if her father were defeated, he sat up straight in his saddle and said to Sir Florestan:

“Protect our father.”

By then Brontaxar had neared and saw how Amadis, in a gold helmet, was charging straight at him. Because of the great deeds that Brontaxar had been told about him before joining the battle, he had furiously searched for him. He immediately took a very heavy lance and shouted:

“Now ye shall see a beautiful blow if that knight in the gold helmet dares to approach me.”
With his lance under his arm, he spurred his horse and rode at him, and Amadis, who had already begun to charge, did the same. Their lances struck their shields, which were pierced and the lances were broken....

~1420 version

[…] that part of the town where they said she was, and quickly said to himself:

“Oriana, my good lady, ye must think of me so your good and delightful memories may help me in my honor, as they have always helped me and made my deeds outstanding. By powerful God, may your good aid give me strength me today because, if things not go well here, my good lady, such a good king as your father, the land that ought to be yours when it pleases God, I your loyal servant, and very many good men may all be lost.”

Then he sat up straight in his saddle and turned his horse’s head toward where he saw Brontaxar d’Ampania, and said to Sir Florestan:

“Protect our father well.”

How Amadis brought down Brontaxar de Ampania and thrust a lance in his chest

At the moment when Brontaxar saw him prepare to charge at him, he let his sword hang from its chain and took a very good lance from a squire waiting on him, who had been carrying it, and said shouted in a frightening voice:

“Now ye shall see a beautiful lance blow if that villain who prepared to charge me dares to approach!” Then he put the lance under his arm and had his horse charge at him, and their lances struck each others’ shields so hard that they were pierced[...]


[… a]quella parte de la villa do le dixieron que estava e dijo muy aso entresy oriana my buena señora menester es que vos membredes de my que me ayude en my honra la va buena e sabrosa membrança que me siempre acorrio e adelanto los mys fechos dios poderoso el vo bu accorro my de oy poder porque se de aquy no prospera, tan bu rrey como vo padre e la tierra que ha de ser va cudo a dios plugjere mi buena señora que yo el vo leal serviente e cuantos oes buenos se podriã perder entonces se enderesço todo en la silla e torno la cabeça del cavallo contra do vio a brontaxar dampanja e dixo contra don florestã aguardad bien a no padre ¶ como amadis derribo a brontaxar de ampanja e le metió la lança en los pechos

[A]lla ora que lo vio brontaxar endereçar contra si dexo colgar la espada de la cadena e tomo vna lança muy buena de vn escudero que le aguardava que le traya e dixo a vna bos alta e epantable agora veredes fermosa golpe de la lança si me osare atender aquel canallo que se enderesço contra mi entõce metio la lança so el sobaco e dexo correr el cavallo cõtra el e firierõse de las lanças en los escudos tan cruamente que luego fuerõ falsa[dos ...]


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