He composed the following operas: Sardanapale (1867), Le Dernier jour de Pompei (1869), Dimitri (1876), La Reine Berthe (1878), Le Chevalier Jean (1885), Lancelot (1900).
LANCELOT (Lancelot du Lac, or Lancelot of the Lake), a famous figure in the Arthurian cycle of romances.
Lancelot, however, is not an original member of the cycle, and the development of his story is still a source of considerable perplexity to the critic.
Briefly summarized, the outline of his career, as given in the German Lanzelet and the French prose Lancelot, is as follows: Lancelot was the only child of King Ban of Benoic and his queen Helaine.
In the prose Lancelot, on the other hand, the Lake is but a mirage, and the Lady's court does not lack its complement of gallant knights; moreover the boy has the companionship of his cousins, Lionel and Bohort, who, like himself, have been driven from their kingdom by Claudas.
When he reaches the customary age (which appears to be fif teen), the young Lancelot, suitably equipped, is sent out into the world.
In the prose Lancelot his education is complete, he knows his name and parentage, though for some unexplained reason he keeps both secret, and he goes with a fitting escort and equipment to Arthur's court to demand knighthood.
In the prose version, Lancelot, from his first appearance at court, conceives a passion for the queen, who is very considerably his senior, his birth taking place some time after her marriage to Arthur.
Surprised together, Lancelot escapes, and the queen is condemned to be burnt alive.
As the sentence is about to be carried into execution Lancelot and his kinsmen come to her rescue, but in the fight that ensues many of Arthur's knights, including three of Gawain's brothers, are slain.
Thus converted into an enemy, Gawain urges his uncle to make war on Lancelot, and there follows a desperate struggle between Arthur and the race of Ban.
This is interrupted by the tidings of Mordred's treachery, and Lancelot, taking no part in the last fatal conflict, outlives both king and queen, and the downfall of the Round Table.
In the pseudo-chronicles, the Historia of Geoffrey and the translations by Wace and Layamon, Lancelot does not appear at all; the queen's lover, whose guilty passion is fully returned, is Mordred.
In Le Chevalier de la Charrette, however, which followed Cliges, we find Lancelot alike as leading knight of the court and lover of the queen, in fact, precisely in the position he occupies in the prose romance, where, indeed, the section dealing with this adventure is, as Gaston Paris clearly proved, an almost literal adaptation of Chretien's poem.
The subject of the poem is the rescue of the queen from her abductor Meleagant; and what makes the matter more perplexing is that Chretien handles the situation as one with which his hearers are already familiar; it is Lancelot, and not Arthur or another, to whom the office of rescuer naturally belongs.
After this it is surprising to find that in his next poem, Le Chevalier au Lion, Lancelot is once, and only once, casually referred to, and that in a passing reference to his rescue of the queen.
In the continuations added at various times to Chretien's unfinished work the role assigned to Lancelot is equally modest.
Welsh tradition does not know him; early Italian records, which have preserved the names of Arthur and Gawain, have no reference to Lancelot; among the group of Arthurian knights figured on the architrave of the north doorway of Modena cathedral (a work of the 12th century) he finds no place; the real cause for his apparently sudden and triumphant rise to popularity is extremely difficult to determine.
What appears the most probable solution is that which regards Lancelot as the hero of an independent and widely diffused folk-tale, which, owing to certain special circumstances, was brought into contact with, and incorporated in, the Arthurian tradition.
The story of the loves of Lancelot and Guenevere, as related by Chretien, has about it nothing spontaneous and genuine; in no way can it be compared with the story of Tristan and Iseult.
Lancelot, already popular hero of a tale in which an adventure parallel to that of the Charrette figured prominently, was pressed into the service, Modred, Guenevere's earlier lover, being too unsympathetic a character; moreover, Modred was required for the final role of traitor.
Here we must distinguish between the Lancelot proper and the LancelotGuenevere versions; so far as the latter are concerned, we cannot get behind the version of Chretien, - nowhere, prior to the composition of the Chevalier de la Charrette is there any evidence of the existence of such a story.
The authorship of the Lancelot proper, on the other hand, is invariably ascribed to Walter Map (see MAP), the chancellor of Henry II., but so also are the majority of the Arthurian prose Romances.
The trend of modern critical opinion is towards accepting Map as the author of a Lancelot romance, which formed the basis for later developments, and there is a growing tendency to identify this hypothetical original Lancelot with the source of the German Lanzelet.
To the student of the original texts Lancelot is an infinitely less interesting hero than Gawain, Perceval or Tristan, each of whom possesses a well-marked personality, and is the centre of what we may call individual adventures.
The language of the prose Lancelot is good, easy and graceful, but the adventures lack originality and interest, and the situations repeat themselves in a most wearisome manner.
The Lancelot story, in its rise and development, belongs exclusively to the later stage of Arthurian romance; it was a story for the court, not for the folk, and it lacks alike the dramatic force and human appeal of the genuine "popular" tale.
The prose Lancelot was frequently printed; J.
The Books devoted by Malory to Lancelot are also drawn from this latter section of the romance; there is no sign that the English translator had any of the earlier part before him.
Unfortunately, Dr Sommer, in his study on the Sources of Malory, omitted to consult these texts, with the result that the sections dealing with Lancelot and Queste urgently require revision.
A Dutch version of a short episodic poem, Lancelot et le cerf au pied blanc will be found in M.
Jonckbloet's volume, and a discussion of this and other Lancelot poems, by Gaston Paris, is contained in vol.
And xii.; Wechssler, Die verschiedenen Redaktionen des Graal-Lancelot Cycklus; J.
Weston, The Legend of Sir Lancelot du Lac (Grimm Library, vol.
Lancelot Blackburne, 1724-1743 78.
When we come to Elizabethan times, we possess a few examples of the sermons of the "judicious" Hooker (1 554 - a 600); Henry Smith (1550-1591) was styled "the prime preacher of the nation"; and Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626), whose sermons were posthumously printed at the command of James in 1628, dazzled his contemporaries by the brilliancy of his euphemism; Andrewes was called "the star of preachers."
He is invariably cited as the author of the Lancelot proper (consisting of two parts), the Queste and the Mort Artus, all three of which are now generally found in one manuscript under the title of Lancelot.
337 (fonds Francais), refers throughout to Map as authority; and the enormous Lancelot codex, B.
112, a combination of the Lancelot and the Tristan, also couples his name with that of Robert de Borron.
Now this incident of the "Three Days' Tournament" is found alike in the prose Lancelot and in the German Lanzelet, this latter translated from a French poem which, in 1194, was in the possession of Hugo de Morville.
Chretien de Troyes, in his Cligds (the date of which falls somewhere in the decade 1160-1170), knew and utilized the story of the "Three Days' Tournament," and moreover makes Lancelot take part in it.
Taking all the evidence into consideration it seems more probable that Map had, at a comparatively early date, before he became so important an official, composed a poem on the subject of Lancelot, which was the direct source of the German version, and which Chretien also knew and followed.
The form in which certain of the references to him are couched favours the above view; the compiler of Guiron le Cortois says in his prologue that "maistre Gautier Map qui fu clers au roi Henrydevisa cil l'estoire de monseigneur Lancelot du Lac, que d'autre chose ne parla it mie gramment en son livre"; and in another place he refers to Map, "qui fit lou pro pre livre de monsoingnour Lancelot dou Lac."
For discussion of his authorship of the Lancelot cf.
Lancelot Andrewes >>
So Merlin preserves his diabolic origin; Arthur his mystic coming and his mystic passing; while Gawain, and after him Lancelot, journey across the river, as the Irish hero Bran had done before them to the island of fair women - the Celtic vision of the realm of death.
Lancelot, son of Ban king of Brittany, a creation of chivalrous romance, who only appears in Arthurian literature under French influence, known chiefly from his amour with Guinevere, perhaps in imitation of the story of Tristan and Iseult.
(See Arthur, Merlin, Perceval, Tristan, Lancelot, Gawain.) Heroes of Romance.
This distinguishes the story from that of Lancelot, with which some modern scholars have been inclined to identify it; for Lancelot's parentage is never in doubt, he is fis du roi.
Later, however, stories which certainly derive from an early non-Grail tradition are introduced, and there are references which imply a knowledge of the prose Lancelot and of Chretien's poem.