March 2, 2014

Erec and Enide by Chrétien de Troyes (Review)

Title: Erec and Enide
Author: Chrétien de Troyes
First published: 1170
Add it: Goodreads, The Book Depository
Rating: ★★★☆☆

The reason I actually enjoyed this poem is probably the translation. Mine is a verse translation into Russian, and it is really good: readable, rhyming, stylistically suitable. Without a good translation these epic poems can be a bit repetitive and tiring, you know, and Erec and Enide sometimes was. It's full of the descriptions of the feasts, presents, entourage and blows in the duels. But clever word choice and a fast rhyme flow somewhat covered those nuisances.

Erec and Enide is the first of Chrétien de Troyes's Arthurian romances. He took some old legends and remodeled them according to current chivalrous tradition. So no surprise the reader sees some French locations there and some imported goods which were not present at the hypothetical Arthurian times. Each and every knight is under constant pressure to prove his value to everybody and himself, and this usually leads to some stupid decisions, like travelling alone or not stopping for rest to tend one's wounds... I guess the death rate was rather high among the knights of the round table.

Erec wants revenge from some unknown knight for an offence he has given to the queen. While accomplishing this, Erec meets his future wife, Enide, fights for her and brings her back to the court. After marriage rumors start that Erec is caring more for his wife than for his valor (hm... not surprising at all!), so he decides to go search some fights again, this time taking his wife with him and testing her on the way.

I don't like Erec at all. He is straight as a stick, and is not very amiable and clever. Enide is more to my liking, as she is always alert for anything that can harm her husband, and can perfectly well deal with some unwelcome suitors (that want to kill her husband and get her as a prize, obviously) by outwitting them. Nevertheless, I'm really surprised that a woman is allowed to play such an important role in the story and accompany her husband in his adventures. A great decision, Chrétien de Troyes!

In my book:
Although Erec is not the most popular knight of the round table, Erec and Enide is a good introduction to the topic. It's rather entertaining and only at times repetitive.

P.S. Jean has also written a review on Erec and Enide, so go check it out HERE. Arthurian event is the best, I tell you!


  1. Yeah, Erec was an unusual character. Poor Enide.

    1. Well, a lot of guys in Troyes's stories are strange and not a marrying kind... So really, the choice is not very big :(


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