Breton lai  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wiki Commons

Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A Breton lai, also known as a narrative lay or simply a lay, is a form of medieval French and English romance literature. Lais are short (typically 600–1000 lines), rhymed tales of love and chivalry, often involving supernatural and fairy-world Celtic motifs. The word "lay" or “lai” is derived from the Celtic word laid, meaning "song".

The earliest Breton lais to survive in writing are probably The Lais of Marie de France, thought to have been composed in the 1170s by Marie de France, a French poet living in England in the late 12th and early 13th century. From descriptions in Marie's lais, and in several anonymous Old French lais of the 13th century, we know of earlier lais of Celtic origin, perhaps more lyrical in style, sung by Breton minstrels. It is believed that these Breton lyric lais, none of which has survived, were introduced by a summary narrative setting the scene for a song, and that these summaries became the basis for the narrative lais.

The earliest written Breton lais were composed in a variety of Old French dialects, and some half dozen lais are known to have been composed in Middle English in the 13th and 14th centuries by various English authors.

Old French Lais

  • The Lays of Marie de France — twelve canonical lais generally accepted as those of Marie de France.
  • The so-called Anonymous Lais — eleven lais of disputed authorship. While these lais are occasionally interspersed with the Marian lais in Medieval manuscripts, scholars do not agree that these lais were actually written by Marie.
  • 'The Lay of the Beach', one of around twenty Old French lais translated into Old Norwegian prose in the 13th century. This lai gives a detailed description of William the Conqueror's commissioning of what appears to be a lyric lai to commemorate a period spent at Barfleur.

Middle English Lais

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Breton lai" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools