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Cliges; a romance   By: (12th cent.)

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In Cliges, Chrétien de Troyes has once again demonstrated his exceptional talent for crafting intricate and captivating romances. Set in the medieval court of King Arthur, this epic tale follows the intertwined lives of various characters as they navigate love, honor, and the constraints of their society.

One of the standout elements of Cliges is its rich and vividly detailed portrayal of courtly love. De Troyes effortlessly transports readers into a world where chivalry and romance reign supreme, immersing us in the complexities and etiquette of medieval courtship. Through his masterful storytelling, he captures the intricacies of love, exploring its power to shape destinies and drive individuals to both remarkable feats and tragic ends.

The characters themselves are vibrant and multi-dimensional, each with their own desires, flaws, and dreams. Cliges, the valiant knight at the center of the narrative, is a formidable yet relatable protagonist. His unwavering loyalty, unyielding courage, and steadfast devotion to his lady love provide a strong foundation for the unfolding narrative. Alongside Cliges, we encounter a range of other fascinating characters, including his bride, Fenice, who proves to be both cunning and bold, and his uncle, King Arthur, whose struggle to reconcile duty with passion offers a refreshing complexity to the story.

The plot, while rooted in romance, also weaves in political intrigue and familial conflicts, adding depth and unpredictability to the narrative. De Troyes skillfully builds tension and suspense, keeping readers engrossed in the story's twists and turns. His attention to detail and mastery of descriptions paint a vivid picture of the medieval world, bringing it to life and making it feel tangible.

What truly sets Cliges apart is de Troyes' exploration of themes such as identity, loyalty, and the tension between personal desires and societal expectations. Through the trials and tribulations faced by his characters, the author prompts us to reflect on the complexities of human relationships and the challenges we encounter when striving to find our place in the world.

While the language and stylistic choices may feel somewhat antiquated to modern readers, this translation maintains the poetry and rhythm that makes de Troyes' work a joy to experience. The prose is elegant and evocative, immersing readers in a bygone era and capturing the essence of courtly love.

In conclusion, Cliges is a compelling and timeless romance that showcases Chrétien de Troyes' exceptional storytelling prowess. Through its exploration of love, honor, and the intricacies of medieval courtship, this novel holds a lasting appeal for readers seeking an immersive and enchanting tale.

First Page:

Cliges: A Romance


Chretien de Troyes

Trans. L. J. Gardiner.

This translation was published with no copyright notice in 1966. "T. Camp"




Published 1966 by Cooper Square Publishers, Inc. 59 Fourth Avenue, New York, N. Y. 10003 Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 66 23315 Printed in the United States of America By Noble Offset Printers, Inc., New York, N. Y. 10003


IT is six hundred and fifty years since Chretien de Troyes wrote his Cliges. And yet he is wonderfully near us, whereas he is separated by a great gulf from the rude trouveres of the Chansons de Gestes and from the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, which was still dragging out its weary length in his early days. Chretien is as refined, as civilised, as composite as we are ourselves; his ladies are as full of whims, impulses, sudden reserves, self debate as M. Paul Bourget's heroines; while the problems of conscience and of emotion which confront them are as complex as those presented on the modern stage. Indeed, there is no break between the Breton romance and the psychological analytical novel of our own day... Continue reading book >>

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