Tristan & Iseult

October 14, 2019 at 3:14 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Tristan and Iseult, Tristan and Isolde, Drustan and Yseult… the variations of spellings are endless, but the way the names – and the story – roll of the tongue, largely stay the same.

I didn’t read the story growing up, but I gathered the main plot points throughout other literary references my whole life. The story was built slowly, for me, an allusion here, a quip there, until when I watched Legends of the Fall for the first time in college, I thought I understood the the gist of the movie’s genius: naming the wild heart that could not be tamed “Tristan” and subtly throwing in that his wife’s name was Isabel.

The movie is based on a book by Jim Harrison, that I later read and was not so smitten by, I even wrote a less than glowing review here. But in finally reading Tristan & Iseult both to myself and aloud to my daughter, I’m finding the desire to re-read Jim Harrison’s novella swelling in my literary soul.

The part that never sunk in through other literature, or the heavily influenced King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot love-triangle–the part that left me briefly chuckling in a “Oh I see what they did there” –was that there are TWO Iseults. (And *spoiler* Tristan’s wife in Legends of the Fall is known as Isabel Two.) The story of Tristan and Iseult follows the tale of Tristan falling in love with Iseult the Fair, Queen of Cornwall, but marrying another Iseult, called Iseult of Whitehands. If you wanted to twist literature and try to be one of those people who got extra creative, telling authors what they were really trying to say and all that, you could say the wild-hearted Tristan had mommy issues and was Oedipally in love with the first Isabel. But that’s just too much…

The point is that literature is pervasive, ancient poems permeating society for generations; legends evolving and growing, but also maintaining. The stories of Tristan & Iseult, in all their incarnations, heavily influenced the King Arthur tales, the theme or forbidden love–no matter how ridiculous–ending in passionate death (Romeo and Juliet, anyone), continue for centuries. Bits and pieces dribbled in to make each new story more rich with nuance and the truths behind the human condition.

John William Waterhouse painting of Tristan & Isolde drinking poison.

So, I found the most “original” version I could find (and still read in English) for myself, and the most kid friendly version for me to read out loud for my eight year old. Rosemary Sutcliff is my go-to when it comes to ancient or medieval tales brought to life for a young audience. Much to my pleasure, she had a Tristan & Iseult published in 1991. Kiddo gave the story 4 stars on Goodreads, “It was really amazing, but also dramatic, and all the love stuff isn’t what would really happen.”

We had many discussions on the difference between love and passion. “Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, love is not rude or self seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth…” A man who loves you will never encourage adultery. A woman who loves a man will not participate in adultery. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Cheating isn’t love, it is passion. Some romance can be romanticized too much. It’s not that the “love stuff isn’t what would really happen,” it’s that it would happen, it does happen, and that’s not love, that’s agonizing obsession.

I enjoy working through literature with her. When she’s in college, I’ll be interested to see what her much more informed reaction will be to Legends of the Fall. As soon as my library is out of storage, I plan to re-read a few things, and see if my own mind has been changed by the experience of reading the literature that came before.

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Valentine’s Day News

February 14, 2013 at 8:42 pm (Events, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Weekly LoSlugsw Down on Kids Books

Title: Slugs in Love

Author & Illustrator: Susan Pearson and Kevin O’Malley

Join Herbie and MaryLou, two slugs on a farm, in their quest to find each other and true love.  They write poetry and love letters back and forth on garden hoes and barn doors, leave messages in strawberry patches and on tomato vines.  It’s really cute and a household favorite of ours year round, but is especially wonderful when celebrating Valentine’s Day with small children.

 

artjournalvalAlso, tonight at Half Price Books Humble…

As it is the second Thursday of the month, we’ll be journaling at the table in Metaphysics and Health from 7-9 pm.  Bring your love or come alone, either way it should be fun to journal with art together.

Featured on the right is a Valentine’s piece from a journaling/art blog I found today.

If you’re not into journaling, you should still come into HPB Humble before the Valentine’s display comes down.  The Store Inventory Merchandiser did a pretty rockin’ job on it:

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St. Denis

November 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Click to visit Kate’s Library

My thoughts on Part Four of Les Miserables

Maybe it is a bit shallow and unliterary of me to come away from St. Denis and only have the story of my own marriage on my mind, but that’s the truth of it.  How can you read what has become a nearly epic love story and not think of your own?  Call it what Hugo does, The Stupefaction of Complete Happiness, and then maybe you can forgive me for getting wrapped up in the romance of it all and not caring for the extensive history, the depth of the literature, and all the rest of it.

“From time to time Marius’ knee touched Cossette’s knee, which gave them both a thrill.” – Book Fifth

Do you remember that? That feeling like a shock, but so much gentler, when the object of your affection makes contact; the feeling incredibly enhanced when that person loves you back… Do you remember?

I met my husband when I was fourteen, my freshman year of high school.  He was old for our grade and already fifteen.  By the time I was fifteen too, I was sitting next to him at lunch our sophomore year, just friends but wondering desperately if he would ever want more.  In those days, I thought a knee knock or a hand graze was everything.  Come to find out, it was nothing compared to him taking my hand to walk me down the hall later that year.  Or even much later – years later – when he would hold just my pinky finger under a blanket in college because we were under orders from my then boyfriend not to hold hands.  We were best friends by then and the idea of not holding hands with my best friends was excruciating.  That same evening he leaned in and whispered in my ear, “I’ll always love you,” and then some blithering nonsense about my boyfriend and the direction of our lives.

Things changed then.  Obviously that (very awesome and dear to me) boyfriend didn’t last as a boyfriend, and I finally knew what I had wanted to know all along: my best friend was my truest love.

Our first year as a couple at my 3rd degree black belt test.

The innocent but thrilling touches didn’t end there, we spent an entire summer trying to ease my parents into the idea that he was around.  I neither confirmed nor denied that he was my boyfriend – at twenty I didn’t think it was any of their business – but during the school term we were in different cities so we wanted to take advantage of the time we did have.  It was like a Jane Austen novel in my head, something like Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill: catching glances across the room, brushing knuckles and fingertips in the hall.  Sneaking a whisper and a kiss when no one was in the room.

“What passed between these two beings? Nothing.  They were adoring each other.” – Book Eighth

Apparently, I have thing for secrets, because that was nearly the entirety of all my relationships, relishing in the act of not letting anyone know.  The difference this time is I was dying to scream it from the roof tops: One day I will  be Mrs. Jonathan Klemm!

As for complete happiness, it is still had.  We fight and argue – after all, we are married- but at the end of the day, at the end of it all, I can snuggle up in the crook of my love’s arm and hold his hand.  He will rub his thumb against mine, lean down and kiss my forehead, and all is well again.  The thrill of the small and innocent touches still there – after all, we are married.

Skip to my next Les Miserables post.

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A Lovely Event

January 24, 2012 at 2:38 am (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Typically, I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day.  Its  a day that is seemingly invented for sheer consumerism.  Many people find this ironic, because I am very happily married to my soul mate and love.  The thing is, though, usually I’d rather curl up with a good book as I snuggle my honey, and not worry about what’s going on in the outside world as everyone else worries about things like “Is she going to like this gift?” or “What can I do for him that wont say too much and scare him off?”

You're Invited!

But this year, its been put in perspective of things I love and things I can do to make it more fun.  This year, I’m an Event Coordinator for a bookstore I love and I get to make it what I want.  This year, its about celebrating some of my favorite stories of all time (books like The Scarlet Pimpernel and Time Traveler’s Wife will absolutely be featured, as well as biographies on people like Nicholas and Alexandra and so on) and celebrating a fabulous little Italian restaraunt in Humble that I’ve grown to love.  This year, you can come to the Humble Half Price Bookstore, buy your favorite love story and upon purchase be entered to win a dinner for two to Italiano’s in Humble.  How much fun is that?

What’s even better? We’re doing it on the 10th, not the 14th, so people who already have big plans, or have to work because they are in the retail or service industry, or just don’t want to fight Valentine’s Day traffic can have a low-key but intimate date night with us.  On top of that,  some lucky couple will get to do Valentine’s Day, or some other special day they choose, practically for free!

My hope is that if we get a lot of people in the door, next year more businesses will donate gift cards and the year after that even more people!  We could maybe one day build Valentine’s Day up to a bookstore extravaganza so that even the most non-Valentine-date night people ever, like me, will look forward to the month of February.

So, if you’re in the Houston area, come celebrate Valentine’s on February 10th with me as we bask in the loveliness of books – our mutual true love.

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