"The Seven Knights of Lara: Text, Context, and Translation," by Peter J. Mahoney
The Seven Knights of Lara: Text, Context, and Translation is the first English translation of the medieval Spanish legend Siete infantes de Lara, which has enthralled audiences for centuries. The plot hinges upon a bitter family dispute rooted in honor and injured pride that drives the powerful Castilian lord, Ruy Velázquez, to betray and murder his nephews, the seven knights from the region of Lara. Years later, when their half-brother Mudarra learns the truth of his origins and of the treasonous death that befell Castile’s seven sons, he travels from Córdoba where he has been raised by the powerful Moorish ruler, Almanzor, and restores his family’s honor by avenging his brothers’ murder.
The earliest known testimony of the legend is preserved in the Estoria de España, the chronicle commissioned by King Alfonso X in the 1270s to provide an account of the various nations and dynasties that had previously ruled the Iberian Peninsula. Less than a century later, a longer and more developed rendition of the story was included in the Crónica de 1344, a Spanish translation of Count Pedro of Barcelos’ Portuguese Crónica geral de Espanha. These two versions of the story, which are presented both in Old Spanish as well as in an annotated English translation, are the ones most often studied by students and scholars alike since they are the oldest, and probably the most faithful, testimonies of what many scholars believe was once an epic poem (or poems).
Given its multidisciplinary breadth, this edition would be a welcomed addition to university-level classes dedicated to medieval literature, history, law, art, and culture. On the one hand, the Seven Knights of Lara is a cornerstone of the Castilian epic tradition; on the other, it is a prime example of the intimate and complex relationship that exists between epic legends and medieval chronicles. In Mahoney’s introductory study, he provides a comprehensive overview of matters that Hispano-medievalists studying the epic genre are still attempting to resolve—for example, the origin of the legend, its date of composition, and its possible historicity—along with a synthesis of the most relevant scholarship pertaining to the texts. While rich in academic rigor, it is nevertheless accessible to readers from different disciplinary backgrounds, and it provides a clear, solid understanding of the Seven Knights of Lara as well as its literary, historical, legal, and cultural milieu.
Traducciones críticas #10, ISBN 973-2-58871-318-6 (HB) $30