Tristan and Iseult

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Tristan and Isolde by Herbert Draper (1901)

Tristan and Iseult is a medieval chivalric romance based on a Celtic legend, told in numerous variations since the 12th century.[1] Tristan is also written Tristram or Tristrem, and Isolde is also written Iseult, Isolt, or Yseult. The story has had a lasting impact on Western culture. The tale is a tragedy about the illicit love between the Cornish knight Tristan and the Irish princess Iseult. The story depicts Tristan's mission to escort Iseult from Ireland to Cornwall to marry his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall. On the journey, Tristan and Iseult ingest a love potion, which instigates a forbidden love affair between them.

Different versions of the legend have been recorded in many texts in various languages across medieval Europe. The earliest instances of the tale take two primary forms known as the courtly branch and the common branch, the former beginning with 12th-century poems of Thomas of Britain and Béroul, the latter reflecting a now lost original version. A subsequent version emerged in the 13th century in the wake of the greatly expanded Prose Tristan, merging the romance of Tristan with the legend of King Arthur. In the wake of revived interest in the medieval era under the influence of Romantic nationalism, the story has continued to be popular in the modern era, notably Wagner's operatic adaptation.


Yseult by Gaston Bussière (early 20th century)

The story and character of Tristan vary between versions. The spelling of his name also varies, although "Tristan" is the most common modern spelling. There are two main traditions of the Tristan legend. The early tradition comprised the French romances of Thomas of Britain and Béroul, two poets from the second half of the 12th century. Later traditions come from the vast Prose Tristan (c. 1240), which was markedly different from the earlier tales written by Thomas and Béroul.

Tristan and Isolde by John Duncan (1912)

After defeating the Irish knight Morholt, the young prince Tristan travels to Ireland to bring back the fair Iseult (Isolde, Isolt, or Yseult) for his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall, to marry. They ingest a love potion along the way, which causes the pair to fall madly in love.[2] In the legend's courtly branch, the potion's effects last a lifetime, but in the common branch the potion's effects wane after three years. In some versions they ingest the potion accidentally. In others, the potion's maker gives it to Iseult to share with Mark, but she deliberately gives it to Tristan instead. Although Iseult marries Mark, the spell forces her and Tristan to seek each other as lovers. The king's advisors repeatedly endeavour to try the pair for adultery, but they uses trickery to preserve their façade of innocence. In Béroul's version, the love potion eventually wears off, and the two lovers make their own choice to continue their adulterous relationship.

Like the ArthurLancelotGuinevere love triangle in the medieval courtly love motif, Tristan, King Mark, and Iseult all love one another. Tristan honours and respects his uncle King Mark as his mentor and adopted father; Iseult is grateful for Mark's kindness to her; Mark loves Tristan as his son and Iseult as a wife. But every night, each has horrible dreams about the future. Mark eventually learns of the affair and seeks to entrap his nephew and wife. Simultaneously, the endangerment of a fragile kingdom and the cessation of war between Ireland and Cornwall (Dumnonia) is taking place. Mark acquires what seems to be proof of their guilt and resolves to punish them — Tristan by hanging and Iseult by burning at the stake. He changes his mind about Iseult and lodges her in a leper colony. Tristan however escapes on his way to the gallows, makes a miraculous leap from a chapel, and rescues Iseult. The lovers escape into the forest of Morrois and take shelter there until they are later discovered by Mark. They make peace with Mark after Tristan agrees to return Iseult to Mark and leave the country. Tristan then travels to Brittany, where he marries (for her name and beauty) Iseult of the White Hands, daughter of Hoel of Brittany and sister of Kahedin. In some versions (including Béroul and Folie Tristan d'Oxford), Tristan returns in disguise to woo Iseult of Ireland, but the behaviour of their dog, Husdent, betrays his identity.[3]

Association with King Arthur and demise[edit]

The earliest surviving Tristan poems include references to King Arthur and his court, with mentions of Tristan and Iseult also found in some early Arthurian texts. The connection between the story and the Arthurian legend was expanded over time. Shortly after the completion of the Vulgate Cycle (the Lancelot-Grail) in the first half of the 13th century, two authors created the Prose Tristan, which fully establishes Tristan as a Knight of the Round Table. Here he is characterized as one of the greatest members of the Round Table, a former enemy turned friend of Lancelot, and a participant in the Quest for the Holy Grail. The Prose Tristan then became the common medieval tale of Tristan and Iseult, incorporated into the Post-Vulgate Cycle. Two centuries later it would be the main source for Thomas Malory's seminal Arthurian compilation Le Morte d'Arthur.

In the popular extended version of the Prose Tristan, and the works derived from it (including Malory's), Tristan is attacked by King Mark while he plays a harp for Iseult. Mark strikes Tristan with an enchanted lance, mortally wounding him. The poetic treatments of the Tristan legend, however, offer a very different account of the hero's death. In Thomas' account, Tristan is wounded by a poisoned lance while attempting to rescue a young woman from six knights. Tristan sends his friend Kahedin to find Iseult of Ireland, the only person who can heal him. Tristan tells Kahedin to sail back with white sails if he is bringing Iseult and black sails if he is not (an echo of the Greek myth of Theseus). Iseult agrees to return to Tristan with Kahedin, but Tristan's jealous wife, Iseult of the White Hands, lies to Tristan about the color of the sails. Tristan dies of grief, thinking Iseult has betrayed him, and Iseult dies over his corpse. The short version of the Prose Tristan and some later works also use the traditional account of Tristan's death as found in the poetic versions.


Geneviève and Lancelot at the Tombs of Isolde and Tristan by Eugénie Servières (c. 1814)

In French sources, such as the ones chosen in the English translation by Hilaire Belloc in 1903, it is stated that a bramble briar grows out of Tristan's grave, growing so thickly that it forms a bower and roots itself into Iseult's grave. The story continues that King Mark tries to have the branches cut three separate times, and each time the branches grow back and intertwine. Later tellings embellish this aspect of the story with the intertwining of a briar above Tristan's grave and a rose tree from Iseult's. Further variants refine the details of the intertwining trees, replacing the two plants with hazel and honeysuckle.

Later stories record that the lovers had a number of children. In some stories, they produced a son and a daughter they named after themselves. The children come to have adventures of their own. In the 14th-century French romance Ysaÿe le Triste (Ysaÿe the Sad), the eponymous hero is the son of Tristan and Iseult. He becomes involved with the fairy king Oberon and marries a girl named Martha, who bears him a son named Mark. Spanish Tristan el Joven also included Tristan's son, referred to as Tristan of Leonis.[4]

Origins and analogues[edit]

There are several theories about the tale's origins, though historians disagree over which is the most accurate.


The mid-6th-century "Drustanus Stone" monument in southeast Cornwall close to Castle Dore has an inscription seemingly referring to Drustan, son of Cunomorus ("Mark"). However, not all historians agree that the Drustan referred to is the archetype of Tristan. The inscription is now heavily eroded, but the earliest records of the stone, starting from the 16th century, all agree on some variation of "CIRVIVS" / "CIRUSIUS" as the name inscribed. It was first read as some variation of "DRUSTANUS" in the late 19th century. The optimistic reading corresponds to the 19th-century popular revival of medieval romance. A 2014 study using 3D scanning techniques supported the initial "CI" reading rather than the backward-facing "D."[5]

There are references to March ap Meichion ("Mark") and Trystan in the Welsh Triads, some of the gnomic poetry, the Mabinogion stories, and the 11th-century hagiography of Illtud. A character called Drystan appears as one of King Arthur's advisers at the end of The Dream of Rhonabwy, an early 13th-century tale in the Middle Welsh prose collection known as the Mabinogion. Iseult is listed along with other great men and women of Arthur's court in another, much earlier Mabinogion tale, Culhwch and Olwen.[6]


Possible Irish antecedents to the Tristan legend have received much scholarly attention. An ill-fated triantán an ghrá, or love triangle, features in several Irish works, most notably in the text called Tóraigheacht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne (The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne). In the story, the aging Fionn mac Cumhaill takes the young princess, Gráinne, to be his wife. At the betrothal ceremony, however, she falls in love with Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, one of Fionn's most trusted warriors. Gráinne gives a sleeping potion to all present but him, and she convinces him to elope with her. The fugitive lovers are then pursued all over Ireland by Fianna.

Another Irish analogue is Scéla Cano meic Gartnáin, preserved in the 14th-century Yellow Book of Lecan. In this tale, Cano is an exiled Scottish king who accepts the hospitality of King Marcan of Ui Maile. His young wife, Credd, drugs all present, and then convinces Cano to be her lover. They try to keep a tryst while at Marcan's court, but they are frustrated by courtiers. In the end, Credd kills herself and Cano dies of grief.

The Ulster Cycle includes the text Clann Uisnigh or Deirdre of the Sorrows in which Naoise mac Usnech falls for Deirdre. She was imprisoned by King Conchobar mac Nessa due to a prophecy that Ulster would plunge into civil war due to men fighting for her beauty. Conchobar had pledged to marry Deirdre himself to avert war and takes his revenge on Clann Uisnigh. The death of Naoise and his kin leads many Ulstermen to defect to Connacht, including Conchobar's stepfather and trusted ally, Fergus mac Róich, eventually precipitating the Táin Bó Cúailnge.

Persian and Classical[edit]

Some scholars suggest that the 11th-century Persian story Vis and Rāmin must have been the model for the Tristan legend because the similarities are too significant to be coincidental.[7][8] The evidence for the Persian origin of Tristan and Iseult is very circumstantial,[9] and there are several theories as to how this Persian story could have reached the West. Some suggested it resulted from story-telling exchanges during the Crusades in a Syrian court[8] and minstrels who had free access to both Crusader and Saracen camps in the Holy Land.[10]

Some believe Ovid's Pyramus and Thisbe and the story of Ariadne at Naxos may have contributed to the development of the Tristan legend.[7] The sequence in which Tristan and Iseult die and become interwoven trees also parallels Ovid's love story of Baucis and Philemon, in which two lovers are transformed in death into two different trees sprouting from the same trunk. However, this also occurs in the saga of Deidre of the Sorrows making the link more tenuous. It also ignores the (now lost) oral traditions of preliterate societies, relying only on written records, which are known to have been damaged (especially during the Dissolution of the Monasteries) during the development of modern nation states such as England and France.

Courtly and common branches[edit]

Common branch[edit]

Tristan and Iseult on their way to Cornwall, a Roman de Tristan miniature by Évrard d'Espinques (15th century)

The earliest representation of the "common" branch is Béroul's Le Roman de Tristan. The first part is generally dated between 1150 and 1170 and the latter between 1181 and 1190. The branch is so named due to its representation of an earlier non-chivalric, non-courtly tradition of story-telling, making it more reflective of the Dark Ages than of the refined High Middle Ages. In this respect, the works in this branch are similar to Layamon's Brut and the Perlesvaus. As with Thomas' works, knowledge of Béroul's work is limited. A few substantial fragments of his works were discovered in the 19th century, and the rest was reconstructed from later versions.[11] Beroul's version is the oldest known version of the Tristan romances. It is commonly considered the closest presentation of all the raw events in the romance, with no explanation or modifications. Therefore, Beroul's version is an archetype for later "common branch" editions.[12] A more substantial illustration of the common branch is the German version by Eilhart von Oberge. Eilhart was popular but paled in comparison with the later Gottfried.[13]

One aspect of the common branch that differentiates significantly from the courtly branch is the depiction of the lovers' time in exile from Mark's court. While the courtly branches describe Tristan and Iseult as sheltering in a "Cave of Lovers" and living in happy seclusion, thus keeping with the tradition of courtly and chivalric writing, the common branches emphasize the extreme suffering that Tristan and Iseult endure. In the common branch, the exile is a true punishment that highlights the couple's departure from courtly norms and emphasizes the impossibility of their romance.[14]

French medievalist Joseph Bédier thought all the Tristan legends could be traced to a single original: a Cornish or Breton poem. He dubbed this hypothetical original the "Ur-Tristan." He wrote his still-popular Romance of Tristan and Iseult as an attempt to reconstruct what this might have been like, incorporating material from other versions to make a cohesive whole. A new English translation of Bédier's Roman de Tristan et Iseut (1900) by Edward J. Gallagher was published in 2013 by Hackett Publishing Company. A translation by Hilaire Belloc, first published in 1913, was published in 1958 as a Caedmon Audio recording read by Claire Bloom[15] and republished in 2005.

Courtly branch[edit]

The earliest representation of what scholars name the "courtly" branch of the Tristan legend is in the work of Thomas of Britain, dating from 1173. Only ten fragments of his Tristan poem, representing six manuscripts, have been located: the manuscripts in Turin and Strassburg are now lost, leaving two in Oxford, one in Cambridge, and one in Carlisle.[7] In his text, Thomas names another trouvère who also sang of Tristan, though no manuscripts of this earlier version have been discovered. There is also a passage describing Iseult writing a short lai out of grief that sheds light on the development of an unrelated legend concerning the death of a prominent troubadour, as well as the composition of lais by noblewomen of the 12th century.

The following essential text for knowledge of the courtly branch of the Tristan legend is the abridged translation of Thomas made by Brother Robert at the request of King Haakon Haakonson of Norway in 1227. King Haakon had wanted to promote Angevin-Norman culture at his court, so he commissioned the translation of several French Arthurian works. The Nordic version presents a complete, direct narrative of the events in Thomas' Tristan with the telling omission of his numerous interpretive diversions. It is the only complete representative of the courtly branch in its formative period.[16]

Chronologically preceding the work of Brother Robert is the Tristan and Isolt of Gottfried von Strassburg, written circa 1211–1215. The poem was Gottfried's only known work and was left incomplete due to his death, with the retelling reaching halfway through the main plot. The poem was later completed by authors such as Heinrich von Freiberg and Ulrich von Türheim but with the "common" branch of the legend as the ideal source.[13]

Other medieval versions[edit]


Contemporary with Béroul and Thomas, Marie de France presented a Tristan episode in one of her lais: "Chevrefoil". It concerns another of Tristan's clandestine returns to Cornwall, in which the banished hero signals his presence to Iseult through an inscription on a hazelnut tree branch placed on a road she was to travel. The title refers to the symbiosis of the honeysuckle and hazelnut tree, which die when separated, similar to Tristan and Iseult: "Ni vous sans moi, ni moi sans vous" ("Neither you without me, nor me without you"). This moment is reminiscent of one in the courtly branch when Tristan uses wood shavings put in a stream as signals to meet in the garden of Mark's palace.

There are also two 12th-century Folies Tristan, Old French poems identified as the Berne and the Oxford versions, which relate Tristan's return to Marc's court under the guise of a madman.[17] Besides their importance as episodic additions to the Tristan story and masterpieces of narrative structure, these relatively short poems significantly contributed to the restoration of the missing parts of Béroul's and Thomas' incomplete texts.[18]

Chrétien de Troyes claims to have written a Tristan story, though no part of it has ever been found.[19] He mentions this in the introduction to Cligès, a romance that many see as a kind of anti-Tristan with a happy ending.[20] Some scholars speculate his Tristan was ill-received, prompting Chrétien to write Cligès—a story with no Celtic antecedent—to make amends.[21]

After Béroul and Thomas, the most noteworthy development in French Tristania is a complex grouping of texts known broadly as the Prose Tristan. Extremely popular in the 13th and 14th centuries, the narratives of these lengthy versions vary in detail from manuscript to manuscript. Modern editions run twelve volumes for the extended version, including Tristan's participation in the Quest for the Holy Grail, or five volumes for a shorter version without the Grail Quest.[22] It significantly influenced later medieval literature and inspired parts of the Post-Vulgate Cycle and the Roman de Palamedes.


The earliest complete source of the Tristan material in English was Sir Tristrem, a romance of some 3344 lines written circa 1300. It is preserved in the famous Auchinleck manuscript at the National Library of Scotland. The narrative largely follows the courtly branch tradition.[citation needed] As is true with many medieval English adaptations of French Arthuriana, the poem's artistic achievement can only be described as average. However, some critics have tried to rehabilitate it, claiming it is a parody. Its first editor, Walter Scott, provided a 60-line ending to the story, which has been printed with the romance in every subsequent edition.[23]

The only other medieval handling of the Tristan legend in English is Thomas Malory's The Book of Sir Tristram de Lyones, a shortened "translation" of the French Prose Tristan, included in his compilation Le Morte d'Arthur. In Malory's version, Tristram is the son of the king of Lyonesse. Since the Winchester Manuscript surfaced in 1934, there has been much scholarly debate on whether the Tristan narrative, like all the episodes in Le Morte d'Arthur, was initially intended to be an independent piece or part of a larger work.

Italian and Spanish[edit]

Giovanni dal Ponte's Two couples - Paris and Helen, Tristan and Iseult (1410s)

In Italy, there were many cantari, or oral poems performed in the public square, either about Tristan or frequently referencing him. They included Cantari di Tristano, Due Tristani Quando Tristano e Lancielotto combattiero al petrone di Merlino, Ultime imprese e morte Tristano, and Vendetta che fe Messer Lanzelloto de la Morte di Messer Tristano, among others.

There are also four different versions of the Prose Tristan in medieval Italy, most named after their place of composition or library in which they are currently found: Tristano Panciaticchiano, Tristano Riccardiano, and Tristano Veneto.[24] The exception to this is the Tavola Ritonda.

In the first third of the 14th century, Arcipreste de Hita wrote his version of the Tristan story, Carta enviada por Hiseo la Brunda a Tristán. Respuesta de Tristán is a unique 15th-century romance written in the form of imaginary letters between the two lovers. Libro del muy esforzado caballero Don Tristán de Leonís y de sus grandes hechos en armas, a Spanish reworking of the Prose Tristan, was first published in Valladolid in 1501.

Nordic and Dutch[edit]

The popularity of Brother Robert's version spawned a unique parody, Saga Af Tristram ok Ísodd, as well as the poem Tristrams kvæði. In the collection of Old Norse prose translations of Marie de France's lais – called Strengleikar (Stringed Instruments) – two lais with Arthurian content have been preserved, one of them being the "Chevrefoil", translated as "Geitarlauf".[25]

A 158-line fragment of a Dutch version (c. 1250) of Thomas of Britain's Tristan exists. It is kept in the Austrian National Library in Vienna, Series nova 3968. A short Tristan narrative, perhaps related to the Béroul text, exists in six Welsh manuscripts dating from the late 16th to the mid 17th century.[26]


A 13th-century verse romance exists in Czech, based on the German Tristan poems by Gottfried, Heinrich, and Eilhart. It is the only known verse representative of the Tristan story in Slavic languages.[27]

The Old Belarusian prose Povest o Tryshchane represents the furthest eastern advance of the legend and, composed in the 1560s, is considered by some critics to be the last "medieval" Tristan or Arthurian text period. Its lineage goes back to the Tristano Veneto. The Republic of Venice, at that time, controlled large parts of the Serbo-Croatian language area, engendering a more active literary and cultural life there than in most of the Balkans during this period. The manuscript of the Povest states that it was translated from a (lost) Serbian intermediary. Scholars assume that the legend must have journeyed from Venice through its Balkan colonies, finally reaching a last outpost in this Slavic language.[28]

Visual art[edit]

Tristan and Isolde by Hugues Merle (c. 1870)

The story of Tristan has been represented in various art forms during the medieval era, from ivory mirror cases to the 13th-century Sicilian Tristan Quilt. Many of the literary versions are illuminated with miniatures. Later, the legend became a popular subject for Romanticist painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; some of these works are illustrated in this article.

Modern media[edit]


In English, the Tristan story generally suffered the same fate as the Matter of Britain. After mainly being ignored for about three centuries, a renaissance of original Arthurian literature, mostly narrative verse, took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Revival material regarding the story includes Alfred Tennyson's "The Last Tournament" (one of his Idylls of the King), Matthew Arnold's 1852 Tristram and Iseult, and Algernon Charles Swinburne's 1882 epic poem Tristram of Lyonesse. Later, most Tristan texts were written in the form of prose novels or short stories.

By the 19th century, Tristan legends spread across the Nordic world, from Denmark to the Faroe Islands. These stories, however, diverged immensely from their medieval precursors. For instance, in one Danish ballad, Tristan and Iseult are made brother and sister. Other unconventional innovations occur in two popular Danish chapbooks of the late 18th-century Tristans saga ok Inionu and En tragoedisk Historie om den ædle og tappre Tistrand, in which Iseult is made the princess of India. The popularity of these chapbooks inspired Icelandic poets Sigurður Breiðfjörð and Níels Jónsson to write rímur, long verse narratives, inspired by the Tristan legend.[29]

  • Cornish writer Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch ("Q") started Castle Dor, a retelling of the Tristan and Iseult myth in modern circumstances. He designated an innkeeper in the role of King Mark, his wife as Iseult, and a Breton onion-seller as Tristan. The plot was set in "Troy", his name for his hometown of Fowey. The book was left unfinished at Quiller-Couch's death and was completed many years later, in 1962, by Daphne du Maurier.
  • Rosemary Sutcliff wrote two novels based on the story of Tristan and Iseult. The first, Tristan and Iseult, a retelling of the story for young adults, was first published in 1971. It is set primarily in Cornwall in the southern peninsula of Britain. The story appears again as a chapter of her later Arthurian novel, The Sword and the Circle (1981).
  • Thomas Berger retold the story of Tristan and Isolde in his 1978 interpretation of the Arthurian legend, Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel.
  • Dee Morrison Meaney told the story from Iseult's perspective in Iseult (1985). It focuses on the magical side of the story and how the coming of the Saxons meant the end of the druidic tradition and magical creatures.
  • Diana L. Paxson's 1988 novel The White Raven told the legend of Tristan and Iseult (named in the book as Drustan and Esseilte) from the perspective of Iseult's handmaiden Brangien ("Branwen"), who was mentioned in various of the medieval stories.
  • Joseph Bédier's Romance of Tristan and Iseult is quoted as a source by John Updike in the afterword to his 1994 novel Brazil about the lovers Tristão and Isabel.
  • Bernard Cornwell included a "historical" interpretation of the legend as a side story in Enemy of God: A Novel of Arthur, a 1996 entry in The Warlord Chronicles series.
  • Rosalind Miles wrote a trilogy about Tristan and Isolde: The Queen of the Western Isle (2002), The Maid of the White Hands (2003), and The Lady of the Sea (2004).
  • Nancy McKenzie wrote Prince of Dreams: A Tale of Tristan and Essylte as part of her Arthurian series in 2003.
  • In Bengali literature, the story is depicted by author Sunil Gangopadhyay in the novel Sonali Dukkho.
  • In Harry Turtledove's alternate history Ruled Britannia, Christopher Marlowe (who lives longer in the novel's timeline than he did in our history) writes a play called Yseult and Tristan to compete with his friend William Shakespeare's immensely popular Hamlet.

Theater and opera[edit]

Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde celebrated in a 1933 German stamp
  • In 1832, Gaetano Donizetti referenced this story in his opera L'elisir d'amore (the elixir of love) or (the love potion) in Milan. The character Adina sings the story to the ensemble, inspiring Nemorino to ask the charlatan Dulcamara for the magic elixir.[30]
  • Premiered in 1865, Richard Wagner's influential Tristan und Isolde depicts Tristan as a doomed romantic figure, while Isolde fulfills Wagner's quintessential feminine role as the redeeming woman.
  • Thomas Hardy's one-act play The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall at Tintagel in Lyonnesse was published in 1923.[31]
  • Rutland Boughton's 1924 opera The Queen of Cornwall was based on Thomas Hardy's play. Swiss composer Frank Martin wrote the chamber opera Le vin herbé between 1938 and 1940 after being influenced by Wagner.[32]


Twentieth-century composers have often used the legend with Wagnerian overtones in their compositions. For instance, Hans Werner Henze's orchestral composition Tristan borrowed freely from the Wagnerian version as well as retellings of the legend.

Film and television[edit]

The story has also been adapted into film many times.[35] The earliest is probably the 1909 French silent film Tristan et Yseult.[36] It was followed by another French film of the same name two years later, which offered a unique addition to the story. In this film, Tristan's jealous slave Rosen tricks the lovers into drinking the love potion, then denounces them to Mark; Mark has pity on the two lovers, but they commit double suicide anyway.[36] A third silent French version was made in 1920, which closely follows the legend.[36]

  • One of the most celebrated and controversial Tristan films was 1943's L'Éternel Retour (The Eternal Return), directed by Jean Delannoy (screenplay by Jean Cocteau). It is a contemporary retelling of the story with a man named Patrice in the role of Tristan, who fetches a wife for his friend Marke. However, an evil dwarf tricks them into drinking a love potion, and the familiar plot ensues.[36] The film was made in France during the Vichy regime under German domination. Elements of the movie reflect National Socialist ideology, with the beautiful blonde hero and heroine off-set by the Untermensch dwarf. The dwarf is given a more prominent role than in most interpretations of the legend; its conniving rains havoc on the lovers, much like the Jews of Nazi stereotypes.
  • The 1970 Spanish film Tristana is only tangentially related to the story. The role of Tristan is assumed by the female character Tristana, who is forced to care for her aging uncle, Don Lope, though she wishes to marry Horacio.[36]
  • The 1981 Irish film Lovespell features Nicholas Clay as Tristan and Kate Mulgrew as Iseult. Coincidentally, Clay went on to play Lancelot in John Boorman's epic Excalibur.[36]
  • The German film Fire and Sword (Feuer und Schwert - Die Legende von Tristan und Isolde) premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 1981 and was released in 1982. The film starred Christoph Waltz as Tristan and was regarded as accurate to the story, though it removed the Iseult of Brittany subplot.[36]
  • French director François Truffaut adapted the subject to modern times for his 1981 film La Femme d'à côté (The Woman Next Door), while 1988's In the Shadow of the Raven transported the characters to medieval Iceland. Here, Trausti and Isolde are warriors from rival tribes who come into conflict when Trausti kills the leader of Isolde's tribe, but a local bishop makes peace and arranges their marriage.[36]
  • There was an animated TV series, Tristán & Isolda: La Leyenda Olvidada, which aired in Spain and France in 1998.[37]
  • Bollywood director Subhash Ghai transfers the story to modern India and the United States in his 1997 musical Pardes. Indian American Kishorilal (Amrish Puri) raises his orphaned nephew Arjun (Shah Rukh Khan). Eventually, Kishorilal sends Arjun back to India to lure the beautiful Ganga (Mahima Chaudhary) as a bride for his selfish, shallow son Rajiv (Apoorva Agnihotri). Arjun falls for Ganga and struggles to remain loyal to his cousin and beloved uncle.
  • The 2002 French animated film Tristan et Iseut is a bowdlerized version of the traditional tale aimed at a family audience.
  • The legend was given a relatively high-budget treatment with 2006's Tristan & Isolde, produced by Tony Scott and Ridley Scott, written by Dean Georgaris, directed by Kevin Reynolds, and starring James Franco and Sophia Myles. In this version, Tristan is a Cornish warrior raised by Lord Marke after his parents were killed at a young age. In a fight with the Irish, Tristan defeats Morholt, the Irish King's second, but is poisoned in the fight. The poison dulls all his senses, and his companions believe him dead, so he is sent off in a boat meant to cremate a dead body. Meanwhile, Isolde, dismayed over her unwilling betrothal to Morholt, leaves her home and finds Tristan on the Irish coast.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tristan and Isolde | legendary figures | Britannica". Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  2. ^ Weston, Jessie Laidlay (1911). "Tristan" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 292–294.
  3. ^ Bruce, Christopher W. (1999). The Arthurian name dictionary. Taylor & Francis. p. 271. ISBN 0-8153-2865-6. Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  4. ^ N. J. Lacy (et al.). "Carta enviada por Hiseo la Brunda Tristan", "Repuesta de Tristan" from The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. New York : Garland Publishing, 1991.
  5. ^ Spring, Adam; Peters, Caradoc (December 2014). "Developing a low cost 3D imaging solution for inscribed stone surface analysis". Journal of Archaeological Science. 52: 97–107. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2014.08.017.
  6. ^ Jeffrey Gantz (translator), Culhwch and Olwen, from The Mabinogion, Penguin, 1976. ISBN 0-14-044322-3
  7. ^ a b c Stewart Gregory (translator), Thomas of Britain, Roman de Tristan, New York: Garland Publishers, 1991. ISBN 0-8240-4034-1
  8. ^ a b Fakhr al-Dīn Gurgānī, and Dick Davis. 2008. Vis & Ramin. Washington, DC: Mage publishers.
  9. ^ Grimbert, Joan T. 1995. Tristan and Isolde: a casebook. New York: Garland Pub.
  10. ^ Grimbert, Joan T. 1995. Tristan and Isolde: a casebook. p. 21.
  11. ^ "Early French Tristan Poems", from Norris J. Lacy (editor), Arthurian Archives, Cambridge, England; Rochester, NY: D.S. Brewer, 1998. ISBN 0-8240-4034-1
  12. ^ Federick, Alan."Introduction." The Romance of Tristan: The Tale of Tristan's Madness.Translated by Alan S. Fedrick, Penguin Classics, 1970.
  13. ^ a b Norris J. Lacy et al. "Gottfried von Strassburg" from The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, New York: Garland, 1991.
  14. ^ Kelly, Molly Robinson. "After the Potion." The Hero's Place: Medieval Literary Traditions of Space and Belonging. Washington DC, Catholic University of America Press, 2009, pp. 227-284.
  15. ^ Trove, National Library of Australia
  16. ^ P. Schach, The Saga of Tristram and Isond, University of Nebraska Press, 1973
  17. ^ "Tristan and Iseult". The Joys of Old French. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  18. ^ Norris J. Lacy (editor). Arthurian Archives: Early French Tristan Poems. Cambridge (England); Rochester, New York : D.S. Brewer, 1998. ISBN 0-8240-4034-1
  19. ^ "Chrétien de Troyes | French poet | Britannica". Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  20. ^ "The Project Gutenberg E-text of Cliges: A Romance, by Chretien de Troyes". Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  21. ^ N. J. Lacy et al. 'Cliges". The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, 1991.
  22. ^ Before any editions of the Prose Tristan were attempted, scholars were dependent on an extended summary and analysis of all the manuscripts by Eilert Löseth in 1890 (republished in 1974). Of the modern editions, the long version is made up of two editions: Renée L. Curtis, ed. Le Roman de Tristan en prose, vols. 1–3 (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1963–1985) and Philippe Ménard, exec. ed. Le Roman de Tristan en Prose, vols. 1–9 (Geneva: Droz, 1987–1997). Curtis' edition of a simple manuscript (Carpentras 404) covers Tristan's ancestry and the traditional legend up to Tristan's madness. However, the massive amount of manuscripts in existence dissuaded other scholars from attempting what Curtis had done until Ménard hit upon the idea of using multiple teams of scholars to tackle the infamous Vienna 2542 manuscript. His edition follows from Curtis' and ends with Tristan's death and the first signs of Arthur's fall. Richard Trachsler is currently preparing an edition of the "continuation" of the Prose Tristan. The shorter version, which contains no Grail Quest, is published by Joël Blanchard in five volumes.
  23. ^ Alan Lupak (editor). Lancelot of the Laik and Sir Tristrem. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications. 1994.
  24. ^ N. J. Lacy (et al.) (1991). The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing.
  25. ^ von Rudolph, Meissner (trans.), Die Strengleikar : ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der altnordischen Prosalitteratur (Halle a.S : M. Niemeyer, 1902).
  26. ^ The Tristan Legend Hill. Leeds England: Leeds Medieval Studies. 1973.
  27. ^ N. J. Lacy (et al.). "Czech Arthurian Literature" in The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. Garland Publishing, 1991.
  28. ^ Kipel, Z (c. 1988). The Byelorussian Tristan. New York: Garland Publishing. ISBN 0-8240-7598-6.
  29. ^ N. J. Lacy (et al.). Tristan from The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. New York : Garland Publishing, 1991.
  30. ^ "L'elisir d'amore | opera by Donizetti | Britannica". Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  31. ^ "The famous tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall at Tintagel in Lyonnesse, a new version of an old story, arranged as a play for mummers, in one act, requiring no theatre or scenery,, by Thomas Hardy | The Online Books Page". Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  32. ^ The Queen of Cornwall, retrieved 2022-05-03
  33. ^ Messiaen : Turangalîla-Symphonie (Susanna Mälkki / Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France), retrieved 2022-05-03
  34. ^ Patrick Wolf - Wind in the Wires, retrieved 2022-05-03
  35. ^ "Films named Tristan and Isolde". Internet Movie Database.
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h Harty, Kevin J. "Arthurian Film from the Camelot Project at the University of Rochester".
  37. ^ "Watch Tristan e Isolda". Retrieved 13 October 2019.

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