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The Romance of Tristan

The Romance of Tristan


by Béroul

The Romance of Tristan Part 18 Summary

Tristan's Madness

  • [End of re-construction; What follows is an anonymous version of a later episode in the legend, called "The Tale of Tristan's Madness."]
  • Meanwhile, back in Cornwall, Mark lays a formal complaint against Tristan before his barons. He offers his love to anyone who can tell him where Tristan is.
  • Dinas sends a message to Tristan about Mark's efforts to find him.
  • Tristan is bummed out about his fate, sorry that he abandoned his first love and will probably never see her again.
  • Tristan wonders why he has had to suffer so much for love, describing himself as "wounded."
  • Tristan asks love to grant him his desire to hold Yseut once more in his arms, and God not to let him die before seeing her again.
  • Tristan says that he is agitated all day and all night because of his love for her.
  • Tristan gets the idea to cut off his hair and dress in altered clothing so he can travel through Cornwall without being recognized.
  • Tristan walks from Hoel's lands to the shore, changing his name to Tantris along the way. Things are so rough that he nearly goes mad.
  • When he arrives in Cornwall, Tristan tears his clothes, scratches his face, and strikes out at anyone who crosses his path. He is trying to make everyone believe he is a madman.
  • Pretending to be a fool, Tristan is able to walk straight into Mark's castle. He tells Mark he is named Picous, that he is the son of a walrus and a whale, and that he has a sister named Bruneheut for whom he will exchange Yseut.
  • Tristan tells Mark that it was because of Brangain's potion that Tristan and Yseut fell in love, and that he and Yseut drank it. If Yseut says this is a lie, then "it is a lie I have dreamed every night since."
  • "Picous" claims to have leaped, thrown reeds, balanced sharpened twigs, and held a queen in his arms.
  • Tristan/"Picous" recalls the day when Mark found the lovers in the woods and moved a branch to block the sunlight from Yseut's face.
  • When Yseut curses the "fool," he responds by saying he still has her ring, and he still regrets parting with her. He asks her to repay his suffering with sweet kisses.
  • King Mark goes out to watch his hunting birds, and Yseut calls the fool to her.
  • Brangain is surprised when the fool calls her by name, and she demands to know what enchanter has told it to him.
  • Tristan responds by asking for her help in getting repaid for a quarter of his service to her and half of what he has suffered for her.
  • Noticing the man's shapely body, Brangain realizes now that he is too hot to be a fool. She promises to help him, but asks him not to do anything that could dishonor her or the queen. Also, she asks him not to use Tristan's name.
  • Tristan agrees but remarks that thanks to the potion Brangain gave them, all he can think about is obeying the dictates of love. He complains that the potion affected them unequally, for he now pines for Yseut while she seems to feel nothing for him.
  • Brangain finally recognizes the fool as Tristan, and she leads him to Yseut.
  • Tristan tells Yseut she can cure him of his sickness by returning his love. Yseut does not believe it is Tristan, however, because Tristan would never say such evil things about her.
  • Tristan explains that his love of her drove him to dissemble (not the first time!), and asks her if he does not resemble the knight who rescued her from Gamarien.
  • Tristan recalls the circumstances of their first few meetings, from the time Yseut first healed his wound until they drank the love potion, but Yseut still does not believe it's him.
  • Tristan then recalls his leap from the chapel and his escape with Yseut into the woods.
  • When Yseut still does not believe him, Tristan complains that he once had a lover but has now lost her, because she will not return his love.
  • Tristan asks about the fate of his dog, Husdant, swearing he will recognize him. When Brangain unties him, he runs straight to his master, joyfully greeting him.
  • Finally, Tristan produces Yseut's ring. On seeing it, Yseut finally believes he's Tristan, and begs for forgiveness for failing to recognize him.
  • Yseut promises to reward Tristan for all his suffering, asking Brangain what the reward should be. Brangain tells her to dress him in nicer clothes, then make love to him until Mark returns. Presumably not in those clothes. Okay, Brangain.
  • [End of "The Tale of Tristan's Madness"; what follows is re-constructed from other versions of the complete legend.]
  • Tristan does not remain long in Cornwall, finally returning to Brittany and the other Yseut.

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