Aucassin and Nicolette done from the Old French Decorated Evelyn Paul: this beautiful book is a treasure in several ways. It is nicely bound in Calf and cloth and rich in color illustrations by the famous artist Evelyn Paul. The text is translated from the old French by Michael West. The book is printed in England and published by Brentanos, New York. It has thirteen tipped in plates done in full, rich color by Evelyn Paul and numerous drawings and stylized letters. I have not been able to find a date in this book, but judging from the style and work of the artist I would say it dates to about 1911 -1921. This is an extremely rare trade edition of a very beautiful book. Condition is very good: there are some very minor scuffs on the leather part of the book, the top is gilded and the book marker is in tact. All pages and illustrations are present and in very good condition. There is no odor or other defects. There is some writing from a previous seller on the front fly page.
The work probably dates from the late 12th or early 13th century, and is known from only one surviving manuscript, discovered in 1752 by medievalist La Curne de Sainte-Pelaye.
The story begins with a song which serves as prologue; and then prose takes up the narrative, telling how Aucassin, son of Count Garin of Beaucaire, so loved Nicolette, a Saracen maiden, who had been sold to the Viscount of Beaucaire, baptized and adopted by him, that he had forsaken knighthood and chivalry and even refused to defend his father's territories from enemies. Accordingly his father ordered the Viscount to send Nicolette away, but the Viscount locked her in a tower of his palace instead. Aucassin is imprisoned by his father to prevent him from going after his beloved Nicolette. But Nicolette escapes, hears Aucassin lamenting in his cell, and comforts him with sweet words. She flees to the forest outside the gates, and there, in order to test Aucassin's fidelity, builds a rustic home to await his arrival. When he is released from prison, Aucassin hears from shepherd lads of Nicolette's hiding-place, and seeks her bower. The lovers, united, resolve to leave the country. They board a ship and are driven to the (fictional) kingdom of "Torelore", whose king they find in child-bed, while the queen is with the army. After a three years' stay in Torelore they are captured by Saracen pirates and separated. Contrary winds blow Aucassin's boat back to Beaucaire, where he succeeds to Garin's estate, while Nicolette is carried to "Cartage" (perhaps a play on Carthage or Cartagena). The sight of the city reminds her that she is the daughter of its king, and a royal marriage is planned for her. But she avoids this by disguising herself in a minstrel's garb and sets sail for Beaucaire to rejoin her beloved Aucassin. There, before Aucassin who does not immediately recognize her, she sings of her own adventures, and in due time makes herself known to him.
Aucassin and Nicolette done from the Old French Decorated Evelyn Paul