The Romance of the RoseBy Guillaume de Lorris and Jean Clopinel de Meun
Translated into English verse by F. S. Ellis
The first English translation of this famous poem, in the original meter.
Around 1237 Guillaume de Lorris wrote the first 4,000 lines of the Romance of the Rose: an allegorical poem which was intended to be a model and summary of all love affairs. A man has a dream that he is out for a walk on a Spring morning and comes upon a beautiful garden. Inside the garden, he sees a beautiful rose. Straightaway, Cupid pierce his heart with an arrow and fills with the desire to pluck the rose. But the Rose is surrounded by a thorn hedge, and guarded by Danger, Jealousy, Shame, and Fear. With the help of Fair-Welcome, the Lover kisses the Rose, but then the guardians fall upon him, build a palisade around the Rose, and lock Fair-Welcome in a tower. Guillaume de Lorris died before finishing his work, and the world was left to wonder if the lover, trembling with bliss, had ever done more than kiss the rose.
Forty years later, however, Jean Clopinel de Meun decided to finish the book. He wrote an 18,000 line continuation into which he poured his vast learning, his anticlericalism, and his complete and utter contempt of romance. The resulting work, uniting the Middle Ages' most beautiful love story and their heartiest satire, was one of the most widely read books in Europe for centuries.
Despite the Romance's popularity and influence, it is little known in English. Chaucer translated Guillaume de Lorris' portion of the poem, but only completed a thousand lines of Jean's. An complete translation was made in 1900 by F. S. Ellis, the friend and publisher of the pre-Raphaelites.
Mr. Ellis' translation is faithful and lively, capturing all the various moods of the original, from tenderness to broad humor. However, he altered the ending of the book, as it was too bawdy for the tastes of his day. The original Old French text is given in an appendix, and we believe that those who can read it will agree that Mr. Ellis was justified in leaving it thus obscure.
This edition is illustrated with 87 woodcuts from a copy printed in 1487. The cover image is from the Kelmscott Chaucer and does not appear in the book.
292 pages. 10.5" by 8"
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