Excerpt from Medieval Narrative: A Book of Translations
This book has grown out of the needs of an undergraduate course in medieval literature. Any such course, even the most elementary, must be comparative in its nature, because of the intricate borrowing and lending of narrative material from one country to another during the Middle Ages. Any student who would work in this field must have no inconsiderable linguistic equipment; but this requirement is, unfortunately, an insuper able barrier in the case of most American undergraduates. One would like to assume, for instance, that all of them can read at least modern French and German by their junior and senior years, but many of them fail to meet even this modest qualifica tion, to say nothing of Old French and Middle High German. This is the more unfortunate smce the subject matter of me dieval narrative - the Nibelung cycle, the Grail stories, the Tris tan legend, and all the lore of Arthurian romances - appeals strongly to undergraduate classes, as anyone who has taught this material knows; perhaps because they come to it with a certain freshness, and find it unhackneyed in comparison with the more familiar classical legends. But enthusiasm is not enough when one is dealing with texts in Old French, Old Icelandic, Middle Dutch, and Medieval Latin; and in the face of the linguistic deficiency of college students a teacher is forced to rely on translations for class use.
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