Turning the tables on romance : Rustichello da Pisa invents a new chivalric table in his Arthurian compilation
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Rustichello da Pisa, the thirteenth century Italian compiler of Arthurian romance and later the co-author of Marco Polo’s Milione (1296-1299), is usually only a footnote in the anthologies of Italian Literature. Yet his Arthurian Compilation was still being reproduced over four hundred years after his death. In 1272-73 Rustichello translated or compiled his Arthurian Compilation from a book (dou livre) in the collection of King Edward I of England. This work is the first known Arthurian prose romance written by an Italian in the literary language known as Franco-Italian. The Compilation begins with Rustichello’s original episodes of Branor le Brun and then proceeds to extrapolate sections of other French romance texts. Yet it is the Branor le Brun episodes, the original story invented by Rustichello, that has pride of place at the beginning of the Compilation. Thus, although Rustichello copied much of his Compilation from other works, he was also an original and innovative author and should be remembered as such. Hence, this dissertation will offer a topical reading of the original episodes of Branor le Brun found in Rustichello da Pisa’s Arthurian Compilation. Furthermore, I will draw out the influence of these original episodes—political, literary, and, in one case, visual—in and beyond Italy.