5 February 2013

This Incredulous Century

Aloysius Bertrand, "To a Bibliophile," Gaspard de la nuit (Paris: Mercure de France, 1920), pp. 142-143. My translation:
Children, there are no more knights, except in books.
A Grandmother's Tales [George Sand]
Why restore worm-eaten and dusty histories from the Middle Ages when chivalry is gone for ever, along with the songs of its wandering minstrels, its fairy enchantments, and the glory of its knights?
What do our marvellous legends matter to this incredulous century: St. George breaking a lance against Charles VII in a tournament in Luçon, the Holy Spirit descending in full view at the Council of Trent, and the Wandering Jew approaching Bishop Gotzelin near the city of Langres to tell him of the Passion of Our Lord.
The three knightly sciences are held in contempt today. No one cares to know the age of the gyrfalcon you are training, how the bastard pieces together his coat of arms, nor at what time of night Mars is conjoined with Venus.
All tradition of war and love is being forgotten, and my fables will not even share the fate of Genevieve of Brabant's lament, the beginning of which the picture seller can no longer remember, and the end of which he never knew.