Tuesday, 22 December 2009

'Ah!' etc: Lantier's 19th-century Rudel epic

Étienne-François de Lantier (1734-1826) served as a cavalry officer before moving to Paris and becoming a writer. According to The Oxford Companion to Literature (a dusty old 1959 edition, edited by Sir Paul Harvey and JE Heseltine), 'He was called "l'Anacharsis des boudoirs" after his pseudo-antique romance Les Voyages d'Anténor en Gréce et en Asie (1798), a gay, very superficial imitation of Barthélemy's Voyage du jeune Anacharsis'.

Lantier was quite the success in his day; Voyages d'Anténor was translated into most European languages. He also wrote L'Impatient (1778), a one-act comedy in verse, Le Flatteur (1780), Les Travaux de Monsieur l'abbé Mouche (1784) and Les Rivales (1798). His epic treatment of the Rudel legend, Geoffroi Rudel ou le Troubadour, poème en huit chants (1825) runs to over 300 pages and begins with the word 'Ah!', which is a fair indication of how the rest of the poem pans out.

Google Books has, inevitably, put Geoffroi Rudel ou le Troubadour online.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Laughing Troubadour...?

The Lycée Jaufré Rudel in Blaye celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1992, and as part of their publicity they produced this poster. Alphonse Mucha it ain't... Still, nice to see the old fellow looking so well. Could this be how the story turns out in a parallel universe?

Friday, 27 November 2009

Jaufré fetches up in Barsetshire

A novel by Angela Thirkell (1890-1961), writer of genteel novels mostly set in Anthony Trollope's fictional Barsetshire, confirms the impression that the Rudel legend was part of the English 'classical education' around the turn of the century (see also Madeleine Bassett's dreamy waxing in PG Wodehouse's Code of the Woosters). Northbridge Rectory (1941) features a conversation about Rudel in which Thirkell has polite fun with a few troubadour clichés. Click on the image for the two relevant pages (pardon the ancient photocopy - and I hope nobody gets too worked up about copyright, but if so, let me know and I'll remove it).

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Epic treatment

Back in 1993, I was hunting down a lengthy treatment of the Rudel legend by an obscure 19th-century poet named John Graham (a Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford), and finally found a copy in the British Library. I ordered the whole, epic thing on microfiche. That was what you had to do back then.

I reproduced a few stanzas in the Outremer anthology and thought about transcribing the whole thing at some point. Good thing I didn't, because Jaufré Rudel or, The Pilgrim of Love is now online at openlibrary.org. All 137 pages of it. It isn't all that bad, in fact. Some nice imagery and turns of phrase. It's just very long.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Carducci and Leopardi on Rudel

The Italian poet and academic Giosué Carducci (1835-1907), winner of the 1906 Nobel Prize for Literature, lectured on Rudel. He also wrote his own treatment of the legend. If your Italian's up to it (sadly mine isn't), you can check out both on this site.

'Consalvo', a poem by another Italian, Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), is also believed to be inspired by the Rudel story. You can find 'Consalvo' in the original Italian over at wikisource.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Rudel goes opera

The Rudel legend got a fairly limp treatment from Edmond Rostand (La Princesse Lointaine preceded his Cyrano de Bergerac by two years); it's also the subject of an opera, L'amour de loin, by the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho (premiered in 2000), which I understand suffers from some of the same faults. For an idea, read a very nicely done review on this chap's blog.

Let's face it, Jaufré is no action hero. Which could explain why, despite the scores of renditions of the Rudel legend by some of literature's big hitters, he's still not all that well known.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

The Book

So back in the day, I edited and published Outremer, an anthology of prose, verse and drama on the Rudel legend by the likes of Robert Browning, Heinrich Heine, PG Wodehouse, AE Swinburne and Edmond Rostand. You can order copies of the book from me, or from Amazon marketplace (also me, effectively).

I've also put up a website with some - but not all - of the material featured in the book, along with some of the beautiful illustrations by Marcus Sedgwick.
(Update June 2012: The website's gone for the moment - I don't like the look of the whole MobileMe-to-iCloud palaver, so I've unsubscribed.)

Feel free to email me for more info on the book.

To begin with...

I stumbled across the legend of Jaufré Rudel nearly two decades ago (long story - another time) and, despite having moved on from the obsessive phase of Rudel-chasing, I still keep my eyes peeled for glimpses of my spurious ancestor in story, song and full-scale opera.

Who knows - this blog may take off and become a much-frequented niche, or it might only be maintained and visited occasionally. So be it.

If you want, get up to speed on Rudel with the wikipedia entry.