Don’t Call It a Comeback: Why Tristan and Iseult Are Still Going Strong after 800 Years
When, at nineteen, I encountered the Tristan legend for the first time, it felt more like watching an action-packed popcorn flick than reading a medieval manuscript. Forget Perceval, that pious weenie; Beroul’s The Romance of Tristan was the real blockbuster of a legend. It had magical potions, an evil dwarf, loads of lepers, dark and twisted love, problematic sex and an extravagance that couldn’t be missed. Someone should make this into a movie, I thought.
And in fact, someone did. I learned this one gray day several years and one move to New York later as I waited in traffic to go through the Lincoln Tunnel. There, soaring above the landscape of gridlocked cars, was a billboard of a medieval knight, his chiseled cheekbones so sharp they looked like they might impale his leading lady, his soulful eyes trained on the horizon.
Damn it, I thought. James Franco beat me to it.