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The Song of Roland (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 30, 1957


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (December 30, 1957)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140440755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140440751
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 25 customer reviews
The introductory material was helpful and informative.
Tylan Schrock
Good read of the epic French poem of battle and glory....a vivid translation and a fast moving narrative of blood and glory.
Paul Ehrmann
The great French/Frank epic poem, the Song of Roland, stemmed out of an actual event.
bixodoido

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 61 people found the following review helpful By "acominatus" on February 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
This review relates to the volume -The Song of Roland-,
Translated and with an Introduction by Dorothy L. Sayers,
Penguin Classics, 1957 (first translation, 1937). 206 pp.
There seems little point in giving a work of world literature
a rating of stars as to whether it is better or lesser than
some other work of world literature, even of the same genre.
The rating for this review is based on this particular
edition and translation.
The excellent qualities of this Penguin edition include
the "Introduction." Sayers discusses this "earliest,
the most famous, and the greatest of those Old French
epics which are called Songs of Deeds." Her "Introduction"
is divided into the highly enlightening subsections titled:
The Poem; The Feudal Picture; Vassalage; Tokens; Chivalry;
The Rules of Battle; Nurture and Companionage; Horses and
Swords; and The Verse and the Translation. She says the
poem as we have it "would appear to have achieved its
final shape towards the end of the eleventh century." But
the events described in the epic took place in 778, and
"the anonymous poet describes in detail the betrayal and
slaughter by Saracens of the rearguard of Charlemagne's
army under Roland -- at Rencevaux -- and Charlemagne's
bitter revenge."
Perhaps most interesting in the "Introduction" are Ms.
Sayers' character studies. She sees that in Charlemagne,
"beneath this larger-than-life-size figure, we discern
another: the portrait of the ideal earthly sovereign --
just, prudent, magnanimous, and devout." She goes
further and posits that in the way he is described
in this epic he even seems like an early medieval version
of a "constitutional" monarch.
Read more ›
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Peter A. Hauck VINE VOICE on August 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is "The Song Of Roland," as Dorothy Sayers remarks in the introduction to this fine translation, is 'the earliest, the most famous, and the greatest of those Old French epics which are called Songs of Seeds.'

This book, written around the end of the eleventh century, and recalling an actual disaster in 778 A.D., the anonymous poet describes in detail the betrayal and slaughter by Saracens the rearguard of Charlemagne's army under ROLAND at Rencevaux and Charlemagne's bitter revenge. Nowhere in literature is the medievel Code of Chivalry more perfectly expressed than in this masterly and exciting poem.

This text includes an extensive introduction to the Eurpoean Medieval world and provides explanations on civil and military costume.

"When Thierry feels the blade bite through his flesh,
And sees the blood upon the grass run red,
Then he lets drive a blow at Pinabel.
Down to the nasal he cleaves the bright steel helm,
Shears through the brain and spills it from his head,
Wrenches the blade out and shakes it from it dead.
With that great stroke he wins and makes an end.
The Franks all cry: "God's might is manifest!"

Yes!!!! Buy this book! You will not be disappointed.
Five stars. Without equal.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
This translation of the Old French tale is highly entertaining, with flashes of poetic invention that enliven the medieval folderol of swords, steeds and deeds. The story concerns the betrayal of the brave but foolhardy Roland, his knightly companions and his army by the treacherous Ganelon. Sayers cleaves closely to the meter of the original Old French, which requires clever feats of circumlocution and diction. The translation has a charmingly archaic quality, in keeping with the ancient nature of the tale.
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34 of 42 people found the following review helpful By bixodoido on August 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
The great French/Frank epic poem, the Song of Roland, stemmed out of an actual event. There really was a Roland--he was a nobleman of some kind. He and his party were ambushed and killed during Charlemagne's lifetime. But they were not fighting Saracen pagans. They were actually killed by a party of Basques. Also, Roland was not a major factor in this battle, but rather merely a participant.
Somewhere along the line a legend sprang up, and it gradually evolved and developed into what is now this poem. The poem is entertaining to read, and is a great example of Frank thought and prejudice (in making the villains Saracens). In fact, the opposing sides in the battle are Christians and Pagans, typical enemies from the period in which this was written.
This poem is epic in many respects, and is also tragic. Certainly Roland's flaw is his excessive overconfidence and pride (hubris), which prevent him from blowing his horn and petitioning aid for himself and his army. The battle sequences, which are very graphic, are reminiscent of The Iliad and the Aeneid, though this work does not measure up to either in greatness or epic grandeur. I have given the poem four stars in relation to similar works (such as The Iliad, the Aeneid, and the Odyssey). The poem is well-written and is an enjoyable read, but the poet was by no means as talented as the likes of Homer, Virgil, Dante, Milton, or the Beowulf poet. Still, this is one of history's great epic poems, and should be treated as such. Study of this poem is essential for anyone interested in the epic as a form of poetry.
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