Saturday, August 25, 2018

Waxing Gibbous 99%

We drove out to a barrier island to see the nearly full moon, passing through a bit of amplified live music and concomitant crowds to get to a quieter section of the beach, where we could sit on the sand and watch the sandpipers skirting the waves.  Unfortunately, we couldn't quite catch the moment of moonrise through the cloud cover, but it loomed a little briefly before fading from view.

Courtesy of Bae Tripod

Monday, August 20, 2018


So I'm trying to re-watch movie!FotR for the first time in over a decade, and it is irksome.

Among many other issues too numerous to mention, I can see no reason for the hobbits to escape the Black Riders on the road, in the forest, and at the easily-jumped dock (other than plot armor).

And why is Merry stealing Sam's lines?!

'I am being eaten alive!' cried Pippin. 'Midgewater! There are more midges than water!' 
'What do they live on when they can't get hobbit?' asked Sam, scratching his neck.
MERRY [smacking cheek]: What do they eat, when they can't get hobbit?
[PIPPIN falls into water for no reason.] 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

C.S. Lewis & Terry Pratchett

Vimes talking to Carrot about the light:
"Vetinary sits up half the night writing, and in the morning the candle's burned down.  Poisoned by the light.  The light's something you don't see. Who looks at the light? [...]  We don't look at the light because the light is what we look with."  (Pratchett, Feet of Clay 289)
Opening passage of CSL's "Meditation in a Toolshed":
I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it. 
Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

"Je fus li chevaliers navré"

Vinaver again, talking about interlace in the early romances:
When about eight hundred pages after the first appearance of the wounded knight and some time after the last occurrence of the theme we meet the knight again and discover, for the first time, that his name is Trahans le Gai, his remark: 'Je fus li chevaliers navré' is intended for those who have not forgotten any detail of the earlier episodes.  The assuption is not only that the reader's member is infallible, but that the exercise of such a memory is in itself a pleasurable pursuit which carries with it its own reward.
Vinaver pp. 82-83 (footnote omitted).

So I was familiar with navré in modern French, but wondered about its meaning in OF.  Here's what wiktionary has to say about its etymology:
Past participle of navrer (“to upset, dismay”), from Middle French, from Old French navrer, nafrer (“to hurt by piercing or cutting”), from Old Norse nafra (“to pierce or bore with an auger”), from nafarr (“auger”), from Proto-Germanic *nabagairaz (“auger", literally "nave-spear”). Cognate with Old English nafogār (“auger”), Old High German nabagēr (“auger”). More at auger.
Or, as the Anglo-Norman Dictionary suggests, naufré as adjective might simply be translated as "wounded" (see nafrer).

And just as fus is the passé simple of être in modern French, fus appears to be a past form of estre in earlier phrases of the language (see estre3).

So perhaps the above-referenced phrase means something like "I was the pierced (wounded) knights" - i.e., the knights Lancelot slew or wounded in avenging him as requested?

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Sin or Misfortune

"[N]ever does the magic of [the love-drink], all-powerful though it is, remove the cause of Tristan's misfortune–his sense of allegiance to" his uncle and overlord, King Mark (Vinaver 47).

Vinaver provides the following discussion, apparently recounting the discussion between Tristan and the hermit Ogrins:
'We love each other,' he says to the hermit who tries to make him repent, 'because of the potion we drank: ce fut pechiez;[fn] and pechiez can mean either sin or misfortune, or possibly both.  (47-48)
This is more or less where I was planning to end the post -- I was just going to share Vinaver's comment on the word "pechiez."  But then I looked at the footnote for context.  Strangely, Vinaver does not provide a closing quotation mark to show where his translation of Tristan's words ends.  And then, without explanation, he drops a footnote to Iseult's words in Béroul's version of Le Roman de Tristan, ll. 1413-16:
Il ne m'aime pas, ne je lui,
Fors par un herbé dont je bui
Et il en but: ce fu pechiez.
(I checked because the unexplained pronoun "il" made me wonder if it was Iseult speaking.)

So it turns out that, at least in this section, Tristan does not seem to use the word "pechiez."  Rather, the Ogrins/Tristan dialogue includes these lines (ll. 1379-92):
'Par foi! Tristran, qui se repent
Par foi et par confession,
Deu du pechié li fait pardon.' 
    Tristran li dit: 'Sire, par foi,
Que ele m'aime en bone foi,
Vos n'entendez pas la raison:
Q'el m'aime, c'est par la poison.
Ge ne me pus de lié partir,
N'ele de moi, n'en quier mentir.' 
Ogrins li dist: 'Et quel confort
Puet on doner a home mort?
Assez est mort qui longuement
Gist en pechié, s'il ne repent;
Doner ne puet nus penitence
A pecheor senz repentance.'
So in this passage, Ogrins (not Tristan) uses "pechié" (ll. 1380, 1390) and "pecheor" (l. 1392).  But I can't help thinking that the hermit's use of these words (unlike, perhaps, Iseult's) is likely to carry only the connotation of sin, rather than misfortune, given that he is urging repentance.

And now I'm suddenly thinking of Claudius in Hamlet II.3:
But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? 'Forgive me my foul murder'?
That cannot be; since I am still possess'd
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, mine own ambition and my queen.
May one be pardon'd and retain the offence?

Béroul. The Romance of Tristan. Edited by Stewart Gregory, Rodopi, 1992. 
Vinaver, Eugène. The Rise of Romance. Oxford University Press, 1971.