Les lais de Marie de France

Marie ai nom,
si sui de France

(Fables, prologue)

This two verses, placed in the Prologue of her Fables contain the only biographical information on the woman, in addition that the Fables were taken from an English original. In the Lais, Marie uses English words and all this details let us suppose that she was a Frenchwoman living in England, perhaps at the court of Henry II.

The Lais are the most important work of Marie; the term lai was used for a short story in verse that could have been recited or even sung and the genre is supposed to have Breton/Celtic origins.

Marie's Lais are written in octosyllabic rhyming couplet; there are twelfe in total and their lenght vary from a 118 verses (Chevrefoil) to 1184 verses(Eliduc).

The subject of the Lais is love but the chosen form does not allow her characters to surrender to lengthy soliloquies or inner-monologues. Marie has sympathy with the unhappily women but she severly criticises the unfaithful wives.
Critics recognize that Marie added a lot of realism to her Lais, despite the fantastic effects that we can find in each tale.

General links

International Marie de France Society (with a selection of online resources)

- The Lays of Marie de France, by Eugene Mason's 1911 French Medieval Romances (full text):

The Lays of Marie de France

- Seven of Marie's lais (Bisclavret, Guigemar, Laustic, Eliduc, Equitain, Chaitivel, Le Fresne) by Lewis Spence:

Seven lais

- The plot summaries of the 12 lais:

The plot summaries

- Patricia Terry's 1995 verse translation of five lais (Laustic, Les Deus Amanz, Chevrefoil, Lanval, and Eliduc):

Patricia Terry's verse translation

- A verse translation of 8 lais (Equitain, Le Fresne, Bisclavret, Lanval, Yonec, Laustic, Chaitivel, Chevrefoil):

A verse translation of 8 lais

- The Anglo-Norman influences in the "Lais" of Marie de France:

The Anglo-Norman influences

- A thematic analysis of Marie de France's lais(in French):

Les lais de Marie de France, une analyse thématique

Alienation and the Otherworld in Lanval, Yonec and Guigemar, article by F. Hodgson:

Alienation and the Otherworld

- Gender and authority in the Medieval French lai, by Miranda Griffin (Oxford Journal, pdf):

Gender and authority

- Narration and Representation of Women in the Lais of Marie de France and the Coutumes de Beauvaisis of Philippe de Beaumanoir, by Jerry Root (University of Utah):

Narration and Representation of Women in the Lais of Marie de France

- Objects, Possession and Identity in the Lais of Marie de France, by Nancy Bradley Warren (Indiana University):

Objects, Possession and Identity in the Lais of Marie de France

- Rethinking Marie, an article by Dinah Hazell (San Francisco State University):

Rethinking Marie

  • Guigemar

The original text of "Guigemar", in Anglo-Norman

- The power of feminine anger in Marie de France's Yonec and Guigemar, by Jennifer Willging (University of Western Ontario, pdf):

The power of feminine anger in "Yonec" and "Guigemar"

- Estreitement bende: Marie de France's Guigemar and the erotics of tight dress, by Nicole D. Smith (article from Medium Aevum):

Estreitement bende: Guigemar and the erotics of tight dress

  • Equitain

The original text of "Equitan", in Anglo-Norman

- Adultery and Kingship in Marie de France's Equitan, article by Sharon Kinoshita:

Adultery and Kingship in "Equitan"

  • Le Fresne

The original text of "Fresne", in Anglo-Norman

- The Differences and Variations of the Poem Le Fresne, by Doug Dotta (University of California, Santa Barbara):

The Differences and Variations of the Poem "Le Fresne"

- 'I Do, I Do': Medieval Models of Marriage and Choice of Partners in Marie de France's Le Fraisne, by Dolliann Margaret Hurtig:

'I Do, I Do': Medieval Models of Marriage and Choice of Partners in Marie de France's "Le Fraisne"

  • Bisclaveret

The original text of the "Bisclavret" (anglo-norman), University of Bucarest

- Woman-hating in Marie de France's Bisclavret>/i>, by Paul Creamer:

Woman-hating

- Metamorphosis and Return in the Lays of Bisclavret and Melion, by Robyn A. Holman (College of Charleston):

Metamorphosis and Return in the Lays of "Bisclavret" and "Melion"

- Sexualité douteuse et bestialité trompeuse dans Bisclavret de Marie de France, by Tovi Bibring (Bar Ilan University); pdf in French:

Sexualité douteuse et bestialité trompeuse dans Bisclavret de Marie de France

  • Lanval

The original text of "Lanval" in Anglo-Norman (Université de Lausanne)

Marie de France, "Lanval" (an overview)

- Guilty as Charged? Subjectivity and the Law in La Chanson de Roland and Lanval, by Katherine Kong (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor):

Guilty as Charged? Subjectivity and the Law in La Chanson de Roland and "Lanval"

- Beowulf, Lanval, and The Miller's Tale: Uniquely Representative of Medieval Social Order, an article by Robert Lewis:

Beowulf, Lanval, and The Miller's Tale: Uniquely Representative of Medieval Social Order

  • Les Deus Amanz

The original text of "Les Deus Amanz" with translation

  • Yonec

A manuscript page that contains the beginning of Marie de France's "Yonec", by BNF

The original text of "Yonec", in Anglo-Norman

Marie de France's "Yonec" (an overview)

  • Milun

The original text of "Milun", in Anglo-Norman

Marie de France's "Milun" (an overview)

  • Chaitivel

The original text of "Chaitivel", in Anglo-Norman

Marie de France's "Chaitivel" (an overview)

  • Chevrefoil

The original text of "Chevrefoil". in Anglo-Norman

- Analyse du lai du Chevrefoil, by Didier Fontaine (in French):

Analyse du lai du "Chevrefoil"

- "Ceo fu la summe de l'escrit", an article by Keith Busby:

"Ceo fu la summe de l'escrit"

  • Eliduc

The original text of "Eliduc", in Anglo-Norman

Eliduc: The Man with Two Wives

Marie de France's "Eliduc" (an overview)

An analysis of "Eliduc"

- A comment on Eliduc and some questions that help to understand the text, by Dr. Norman Prinsky (Augusta State University):

A comment on "Eliduc"