A rarity of enormous interest, this refurbished Hebrew translation of an Arthurian romance is the only known text of its kind in existence. Based on the writings of an anonymous Italian Jew in 1279, the author presents two stories. The first relates Merlin’s role in the seductions of Igerna by Pendragon and the consequent birth of Arthur. The second tells of Arthur’s rise to royal glory, of Lancelot’s affair with Guinevere, his meeting with the Maid of Askalot, and his skill at a jousting tournament.
This romance exists in a unique copy at the Vatican Library, which Curt Leviant personally examined. He offers a highly readable version of that text in corrected Hebrew with graceful English transliteration on facing pages, and an analysis of Jewish aspects of the piece. He also traces its origins to an Old French tale.
Not just a literary curiosity, this is at once fine scholarship and compelling proof of the vibrant interaction between Judaism and other cultures of medieval Europe.