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TRISTAN

The theme of the Feridun story is pursued in the Tristan saga, as related in the epic
poem by Gottfried von Strassburg. This is especially evident in the prologue of the
Tristan saga, which is repeated later on in the adventures of the hero himself
(duplication) . Riwalin, king in the land of the Parmenians, in an expedition to the
court of Mark, king of Cornwall and England, had become acquainted with the latter's
beautiful sister, Blancheflure, and his heart was aflame with love for her. While
assisting Mark in a campaign, Riwalin was mortally wounded and
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was carried to Tintajole. Blancheflure, disguised as a beggar maid, hastened to his


sickbed, and her devoted love saved the king's life. She fled with her lover to his
native land (obstacles) and was there proclaimed as his consort. But Morgan attacked
Riwalin's country, for the sake of Blancheflure, whom the king entrusted to
his faithful retainer Rual, because she was carrying a child. Rual placed the queen for
safekeeping in the castle of Kaneel. Here she gave birth to a son and died, while her
husband fell in the battle against Morgan. In order to protect the king's offspring from
Morgan's pursuits, Rual spread the rumor that the infant had been born dead. The boy
was named Tristan, because he had been conceived and born in sorrow. Under the care
of his foster parents, Tristan grew up, equally straight in body and mind, until his
fourteenth year, when he was kidnapped by Norwegian merchants, who then put him
ashore in Cornwall because they feared the wrath of the gods. Here the boy was found
by the soldiers of King Mark, who was so well pleased with the brave and handsome
youth that he promptly made him his master of the chase (career), and held him in
great affection. Meanwhile, faithful Rual had set forth to seek his abducted foster son,
whom he found at last in Cornwall, where Rual had come begging his way.
Rual revealed Tristan's descent to the king, who was delighted to see in him the son of
his beloved sister, and raised him to the rank of knight. In order to avenge his father,
Tristan proceeded with Rual to Parmenia, vanquished Morgan, the usurper, and gave
the country to Rual as liege, while he himself returned to his uncle Mark. 1
The actual Tristan saga goes on with a repetition of the principal themes. In the
service of Mark, Tristan kills Morald, the bridegroom of Isolde, and being wounded
unto death, he is saved by Isolde. He asks her hand in marriage on behalf of his uncle
Mark. When he fulfills the condition of killing a dragon, she accompanies him
reluctantly to Cornwall, to which they travel by ship. On the journey they partake
unwittingly of the disastrous love potion
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which binds them together in frenzied passion; they betray King Mark. On the
wedding night, Isolde's faithful maid, Brangne, represents the queen, and sacrifices
her virginity to the king. Next follows the banishment of Tristan, his several attempts
to regain his beloved, although he had meanwhile married another Isolde--"Isolde the
White Hand," of Brittany, who resembled his love, "Isolde the Fair." At last he is
again wounded unto death, and Isolde arrives too late to save him. 1
A plainer version of the Tristan saga--in the sense of the characteristic features of the
myth of the birth of the hero--is found in the fairy tale "The True Bride," quoted by
Riklin from Rittershaus. 2 A royal pair have no children. The king having threatened to
kill his wife unless she bears a child by the time of his return from his sea voyage, she
is brought to him during his journey, by his zealous maid-servant, as the fairest of
three promenading ladies, and he takes her into his tent without recognizing her. 3 She
returns home without having been discovered, gives birth to a daughter, Isol, and dies.
Isol later on finds, in a box by the seaside, a most beautiful little boy, whose name is
Tristram, and she raises him to become engaged to him. The subsequent story, which
contains the motif of the true bride, is noteworthy for present purposes only in so far
as here again occurs the draught of oblivion, and two Isoldes. The king's second wife
gives a potion to Tristram, which causes him to forget the fair Isol entirely, so that he
wishes to marry the black Isota. Ultimately he discovers the deception, however, and
becomes united with Isol.

Footnotes
42:1 After Chop: Erluterungen zu Wagner's Tristan (Reclam edition).
43:1 Compare Immermann: Tristan and Isolde, Ein Gedicht in Romanzen (Dsseldorf,
1841). Like the epic of Gottfried von Strassburg, his version begins with the
preliminary history of the loves of Tristan's parents, King Riwalin Kannlengres of
Parmenia and Mark's beautiful sister Blancheflur. The maiden never reveals her love,
which is not sanctioned by her brother, but she visits the king, who is wounded unto
death, in his chamber, and dying he procreates Tristan, "the son of the most daring and
doleful love." Grown up as a foundling in the care of Rual and his wife, Florete, the
winsome youth Tristan introduces himself to Mark in a stag hunt, as an expert
huntsman, is recognized as his nephew by a ring, the king's gift to his beloved sister,
and becomes his favorite.
43:2 Wunscherfllung and Symbolik im Mrchen, p. 56; from the Rittershaus
collection of fairy tales (XXVII, p. 113). See translation by W. A. White,
M.D., Psychoanalytic Review, Vol. I, No. 1.

43:3 Compare the substitution of the bride, through Brangne.

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