Tirant Lo Blanc

Tirant lo blanc
The first page of the 1490 edition of Tirant lo Blanc, British Library G.11383

I recently completed Tirant Lo Blanc in my 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die quest. Here is what I found interesting about the book.

Plot

The book is about a knight named Tirant and it follows his adventures and his progression through the army because of his wisdom and strategy skills. At the same time, we also get to see his wooing of Carmesina.

History

Tirant Lo Blanc is an ancient example of a novel that shares what would have happened if events were changed. Similar to the book The Man in the High Castle. David A. Wacks a Professor of Spanish in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Oregon wrote on his blog, “In a way Tirant is a historical-fictional fantasy of what the Aragonese expansion in the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean might have been if the Ottoman Empire had not come to dominate the region.”

If the history and religious aspects of the novel interest you, I suggest reading his article titled Fiction, History, and the Struggle for the Mediterranean in Tirant Lo Blanch.

Romance

Another big part of this book is the romance story. It shares a typical romance trope of someone interfering in a relationship to break them up. It the book Tirant and Carmesina fall in love but then Widow Repose, aka the Devil, starts telling lies to break the two up. At first, Tirant and Carmesina believe these lies causing problems but, in the end, the truth comes out and they get back together.

The ending of the romance plot is a Romeo and Juliet ending before Shakespeare wrote it. Tirant dies and then Carmesina follows suite. Makes you wonder if Shakespeare read this book.

Quotes

Here are some of the quotes I enjoyed from the book.

But my free will is captive, and even if I wanted to, my five senses would not allow it.

Tirant said this in response to the Widow Repose’s proclamation of love. I thought it was funny and it probably would read differently in its original language. But, could you imagine saying it to someone nowadays to turn them down?

Up to today I’ve always thought of you as a mother or a sister, but now you are like a stepmother because of the reprehensible advice you’re giving about me.

Even back in the fifteenth-century stepmothers were put in a bad light.

Here the book stops talking of the emperor who is having the city well guarded, and goes back to tell about Widow Repose, alias the Devil.

I thought it was an interesting narrative technique to state outright what the author thinks about one of the characters.

Have you read Tirant Lo Blanc?