[UPDATE: As of December 2012, information on purchasing The Tale of Charlemagne and Ralph the Collier as either a paperback or an e-book can be found here.]
In 2007, I posted my translation of the 15th-century romance “The Taill of Rauf Coilyear,” a 972-line Middle Scots poem about the kerfuffle that ensues when Charlemagne, separated from his entourage by a snowstorm, seeks refuge in the home of a proud and irascible collier (a sort of medieval Tommy Saxondale). Combining folklore motifs with burlesque humor and elements of chansons and chivalric romances, “Rauf Coilyear” is a lively but rarely-read tale of courtesy, hospitality, and knighthood. To my knowledge, it’s also the only medieval romance in which Charlemagne totally gets slapped in the face.
Because enough people found the earlier version both readable and entertaining, I’m pleased to make The Tale of Charlemagne and Ralph the Collier available as a snazzy 56-page paperback. The translation—which imitates the form of the original in 75 thirteen-line rhyming, alliterative stanzas—is freshly polished and lightly annotated, and the bibliography is current. I’m offering this little book as a literary curiosity, an experiment in self-publishing, and a way to help defray the costs of maintaining this blog.
To preview this book, you can see a low-res PDF of sample pages or view larger images of the front and back cover.
No one else has ever translated “Rauf Coilyear” into rhyming, alliterative, modern English verse, and I doubt anyone else will be nutty enough to try—so whether you’re a longtime reader of this blog, a student of medieval literature, or a collector of truly obscure manifestations of Charlemagniana, I hope you’ll find this translation a satisfying read. Despite what Mamillius claimed, sometimes a sad tale isn’t best for winter after all.
11 thoughts on ““…and every one of them words rang true, and glowed like burning coal…””
Hooray! It looks great. I’m excited to get my hands on one (as soon as payday arrives that is). Congratulations!
You would be doing your faithful readers and potential imitators a big favor if you issued a report on this experiment.
Hi Jeff…sent you an email..wondering if it might have wound up in the spam folder..
“Charlemagniana” that’s a new word for me.
I think “Charlemagnia” works better because it is closer to “Charle-mania.”
Good luck on this new endeavor of yours.
And next, the Kindle version? 🙂
Suzanne: A while back, I did try to create a Kindle version of this book, but Amazon’s software didn’t recognize the formatting of the stanzas, so all I got was a big, jumbled mess. It looks like the conversion software has gotten a bit better, but the source document will need some serious tweaks. I’ll see what I can do; in the meantime, I believe the Kindle 2 should be able to read the PDF version.
So this is not a facing translation? *mock pout* But I love facing translations!
A facing-page translation would have been nice, but there were three barriers: doubling the size of the book would have raised the cost of printing by around 20 percent; I would have faced copyright issues if I’d reproduced a preexisting edition of the original; and the publishing software resisted even my most strident attempts to explain to it what a “yogh” is…