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The "Alexandreis" of Walter of Châtilon: A Twelfth-Century Epic (The Middle Ages Series)

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9780812233476: The "Alexandreis" of Walter of Châtilon: A Twelfth-Century Epic (The Middle Ages Series)
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Written sometime in the 1170s, Walter of Chatillon's Latin epic on the life of Alexander the Great loomed as large on literary horizons as the works on Jean de Meun, Dante, or Boccaccio. Within a few decades of its composition, the poem had become a standard text of the literary curriculum. Virtually all authors of the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries knew the poem. And an extraordinary two hundred surviving manuscripts, elaborately annotated, attest both to the popularity of the Alexandreis and to the care with which it was read by its medieval audience.

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David Townsend's translation - the first ever into English verse - affords modern readers a vivid sense of the aesthetic appeal and sophisticated artistry of Walter's poem. A concise introduction sets out the poem's background and significance in literary history, while also suggesting how Walter's text resonates with the literary sensibilities of our own times. Townsend's explanatory notes, adapted in large part from glosses in the surviving manuscripts, allow modern audiences a remarkable glimpse into the ways in which medieval readers of the Alexandreis must have understood the poem.

About the Author:

David Townsend is Professor of Medieval Studies and English at the University of Toronto.

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