TRISTAN

'The Way of Noble Love

"A man a woman, a woman a man,

Tristan Isolt, Isolt Tristan."

 

"As the glow of love's inward fire increases," the poet Gottfried wrote, "so the frenzy of the lover's suit. But this pain is so full of love, this anguish so enheartening, that no noble heart would dispense with it, once having been so heartened." Of all the modes of experience by which the individual might be carried away from the safety of well-trodden grounds to the danger of the unknown, the mode of feeling, the erotic, was the first to waken Gothic man from his childhood slumber in authority; and, as Gottfried's language tells, there were those, whom he calls noble, whose lives received from this spiritual fire the same nourishment as the lover of God received from the bread and wine of the sacrament.'

Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology

"One of the great romances of the Middle Ages, Tristan, written in the early thirteenth century, is based on a medieval love story of grand passion and deceit. By slaying a dragon, the young prince Tristan wins the beautiful Isolde’s hand in marriage for his uncle, King Mark. On their journey back to Mark’s court, however, the pair mistakenly drink a love-potion intended for the king and his young bride, and are instantly possessed with an all-consuming love for each another – a love they are compelled to conceal by a series of subterfuges that culminates in tragedy. Von Strassburg’s work is acknowledged as the greatest rendering of this legend of medieval lovers, and went on to influence generations of writers and artists and inspire Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde."                                                                                                               The Penguin Random House Introduction to Tristan