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Koning Artur In De Nederlanden * J.D. Janssens (1985)

Some time ago I was rereading Koenraad Logghe’s “De Graal“, a book about the Arthurian legends that thrives heavily on the texts in the Dutch language and has a lot of references to the “Shah Nameh”, the Persian “Book Of The Kings”. While visiting a local second hand bookshop that I rarely visit these days, my eye fell on a shelf where the Shah Nameh stood right next to a little book with fragments of Dutch Arthurian texts. Coincidence? I have not yet finished the Shah Nameh, but Janssens booklet with fragments is only 200 pages so that went a lot quicker. Janssens wanted to make a book to bring the less known, but of the same age (or even older) as the famous French texts, to a larger, Dutch audience. He choose fragments of Perchevael, Ferguut, Walewein ende Key and Graalqueeste. There is a lengthy interpretative introduction which is very interesting and thought-provoking. The fragments themself are in the original language (Middle Dutch), but have ‘normalised writing’. Notes at the bottom of the pages explain uncommon words and structures. It appears that literary scholars are pleased with the fragments, personally I think it are not the most interesting passages that Janssens choose. Besides, the authors of the texts used many lines to describe the entering of a castle or whatever, the intermediating pieces in which Janssens summerises the events are more enjoyable in my opinion. It was nice to read these Dutch texts in the original language. I find this old Dutch not too hard to read, so it went pretty quickly. A nice little booklet that you will have to find second hand. It is well available from about € 10,-.
1985, uitgeverij HES

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