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Arthurian Audio Files


Malory
from The Book of Tristram de Lyones:
"Launcelot and Elaine"

Read by Tom Hanks, Baylor University
Malory: Works (1-Volume Edition)
edited by Eugene Vinaver
Oxford University Press, 1977
pages 487, l. 27- 488, l. 18

Prof. Tom Hanks reads the famous passage in which the confrontation between Guenivere and Elaine drives Launcelot mad. People often read Malory's Early Modern English as if it were Chaucer's Middle English, but Prof. Hanks takes special care to pronounce the words accurately according to the best current opinions of the sound of late 15th-century English prose.


'A, thou false traytoure knyght! Loke thou never abyde in my courte, and lyghtly that thou voyde my chambir! And nat so hardy, thou false traytoure knyght, that evermore thou com in my syght!'

'Alas!' seyde sir L[a]uncelot.

And therewyth he toke suche an hartely sorow at her wordys that he felle downe to the floure in a sowne. And therewythall quene Gwenyver departed.

And whan sir Launcelot awooke oute of hys swoghe, he lepte oute at a bay-wyndow into a gardyne, and there wyth thornys he was all tocracched of his vysage and hys body, and so he ranne furth he knew nat whothir, and was as wylde [woode] as ever was man. And so he ran two yere, and never man had grace to know hym.

Now turne we unto quene Gwenyver and to the fayre lady Elayne, that whan dame Elayne harde the quene so rebuke sir Launcelot, and how also he sowned and how he lepte oute of the bay- wyndow, than she seyde unto quene Gwenyver,

'Madame, ye ar gretly to blame for sir Launcelot, for now have ye loste hym, for I saw and harde by his countenaunce that he ys madde for ever. And therefore, alas! madame, ye have done grete synne and youreselff grete dyshonoure, for ye have a lorde royall of youre owne, and therefore hit were youre parte for to love hym; for there ys no quene in this worlde that hath suche another kynge as ye have. And yf ye were nat, I myght have getyn the love of my lorde sir Launcelot; and a grete cause I have to love hym, for he hadde my maydynhode and by hym I have borne a fayre sonne whose [name] ys sir Galahad. And he shall be in hys tyme the beste knyght of the worlde.'

'Well, dame Elayne,' seyde the quene, 'as sone as hit ys daylyght I charge you to avoyde my courte. And for the love ye owghe unto sir Launcelot discover not hys counceyle, for and ye do, hit woll be hys deth!'

'As for that,' seyde dame Elayne, 'I dare undirtake he ys marred for ever, and that have you made. For nother ye nor I ar lyke to rejoyse hym, for he made the moste pyteuous gronys whan he lepte oute at yondir bay-wyndow that ever I harde man make. Alas!' seyde feyre Elayne, and 'Alas!' seyde the quene, 'for now I wote well that we have loste hym for ever!'


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