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Re: Tirant as an example of Chivalry
The sentence that I was most concerned with in the passage I
quoted does not have any graphic violence, but only this:
"He showed his ignorance of arms and the gentle art of chivalry, and
in everyone's opinion, he died a coward's death without defending
The questions that Mistress Deirdre O'Siodhachain so eloquently
raised about the words of her friends may well be applied here:
> Are these words used among friends for the sake of bravado and good
> storytelling, or expressions of a real desire to pound an opponent into the
> ground to prove what a great fighter they are? And are they likely to be
> misunderstood by anyone not familiar with them, or worse, taken as the
> correct attitude for a knight? Is this kind of posturing reinforcing their
> chivalry or degrading to it? Somehow it makes it sound like the need is
> beyond winning the fight; that one's opponent must be reduced in personal
> dignity as well or the victory lacks savor.
It is precisely _because_ the book is, as Karen Larsdatter put it,
"a guide to How To Be A Knight", that I think we must consider the
possibility that this is indeed the correct attitude for a knight.
In the very next chapter of the book, Diaphebus tells of a knight
cutting the silk cords that hold Tirant's helmet on, and William
of Warwick interrupts him to chide him and Tirant for not knowing
the old trick of securing one's helmet with silk-wrapped wire.
If the author, Sir Joanot Martorell, had any concerns about the
attitude expessed in that passage, he could have easily inserted
a similar interruption.
It has been suggested that "Tirant lo Blanc" is actually a satire
of knighthood, like the Spanish novel "Don Quixote" a century later.
I agree that some parts of the book are satirical (for example the
part about settling a dispute by hanging the disputants lawyers) but
I think that Joanot Martorell took knighthood _very_ seriously. He
himself lived the life of a fifteenth-century knight, not only jousting
on the tournament circuit but also engaging in duels of honor.
Someone else has said that he wants to act, not the way knights
actually acted, but rather they way they were described to act in
period songs and poems. Let me stress that "Tirant lo Blanc" is
a work of fiction itself, and the title character is a fictional
character loosely based on some historical characters, mostly
the 13th C. Catalan adventurer Roger de Flor and the 15th C. Hungarian
general Janos Hunyadi Valachus. I think that Martorell used his
poetic license to leave out the nastier parts.
Furthermore, I believe that David Rosenthal (the translater of
the edition I hold) is correct when he says that the main reason
that "Tirant" was not widely popular is that it was written in
Catalan. If the New World had been colonized by Valencia instead
of Castile, things might have been different.
Alfredo el Bufon
Elvegast, Windmaster's Hill, Atlantia
Equivocate [sp?], from the Latin words _equus_ (horse) and
_vocare_ (to say) [etym?], means To Just Say Neigh [def?].
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