A contemporary prose rendering of the great medieval French epic, The Song of Roland is as canonical and significant as the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf. It extols the chivalric ideals in the France of Charlemagne through the exploits of Charlemagne's nephew, the warrior Roland, who fights bravely to his death in a legendary battle. Against the bloody backdrop of the struggle between Christianity and Islam, The Song of Roland remains a vivid portrayal of medieval life, knightly adventure, and feudal politics. The first great literary works of a culture are its epic chronicles, those that create simple hero-figures about whom the imagination of a nation can crystallize, observed V. S. Pritchett.
The Song of Roland is animated by the crusading spirit and fortified by national and religious propaganda. This edition features W. S. Merwin's glowing, lyrical translation.
About the Author
W. S. Merwin was born in New York City in 1927 and grew up in UnionCity, New Jersey, and in Scranton, Pennsylvania. From 1949 to 1951 heworked as a tutor in France, Portugal, and Majorca. He has since lived inmany parts of the world, most recently on Maui in the Hawaiian Islands.His many books of poems, prose, and translations are listed at thebeginning of this volume. He has been the recipient of many awards andprizes, including the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets (ofwhich he is now a Chancellor), the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, and theBollingen Prize in Poetry; most recently he has received the Governor'sAward for Literature of the state of Hawaii, the Tanning Prize for mastery inthe art of poetry, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, and theRuth Lilly Poetry Prize.
"The Song of Roland is not a chance assembly of popular tales: it is a deliberate and masterly work of art."