Composed in French in twelfth-century England, these twelve brief verse narratives center on the joys, sorrows, and complications of love affairs in a context that blends the courtly culture of tournaments and hunting and otherworldly elements such as self-steering boats, shape-shifting lovers, and talking animals. Popular with readers across countries and languages since their composition, the Lais have made their author, Marie, one of the most famous women writers of the Middle Ages, renowned for her brilliant use of language and cultural allusion as well as her keen eye for human behavior.
This new edition provides a complete facing-page edition with the original text alongside a new modern English translation. A single manuscript, Harley 978, is used as the copy text. Appendices include contemporary literature on love, animals, and courtly life, as well as a list of textual variants in other manuscripts.
“Innovative and elegant, this edition links textual transcription and translation to a digitized manuscript of Marie’s oeuvre, British Library MS Harley 978. Students can use this edition in tandem with the online codex to add historical authenticity to their reading. Claire Waters enriches the medieval context of her lucid translations by including informative appendices ranging from courtly love and society, to animal fables, to historical background, and important literary analogues.” — Stephen G. Nicholls, John Hopkins University