William and the Werewolf

By Michael Smith

A beautifully illustrated translation of the fourteenth-century chivalric epic.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

A friendly werewolf arrives in the nick of time

Dear lover of mediaeval poetry,

I thought it would be nice to share with you some of my translation of William and the Werewolf (William of Palerne).

This short film gives you a flavour of the warmth and texture of this remarkable fourteenth century poem, telling of the moment when the two lovers William and Melior, having eloped from Rome disguised as bears, are discovered by quarrymen and then rescued by the poem's eppnymous werewolf.

The werewolf in this story is a remarkable creation. While mirroring some of the characteristics of Marie de France's Old French romance Bisclavret, he is nonetheless a creature of hope and gentleness whose maltreatment by his stepmother never affects how he feels about other human beings. We see some of this in this reading. 

One of this romance's other remarkable features is its portrayal of everyday mediaeval folk, and the way it captures their kindness. While we see such folk in the near contemporary Piers Plowman, here, in a story set more in the secular world than that of Pier's land of religious metaphor, they are more endearing and attractive.

Watch out in particular for the two charcoal burners - one driven by greed at hoping to win a king's ransom; the other driven by love and letting the eloping couple carry on with their escape. I love this passage!

I hope you enjoy the reading - and, if you are one of those who has kindly supported the book, thank you once again for your support. If you know of others who would be interested in bringing this book to life, please do pass on the message.

Everyone who supports the book will be a named patron in the back - a modern day equivalent of the romance's original patron Humphrey de Bohun!

Thank you once again,

 

Michael Smith

Translator and Printmaker

 

PS - if you are reading one of these updates for the first time and have not yet supported the book, please do so here. There are lots of pledge rewards to choose from, including original illustrations from the book as well.

 

Back to project page
Share on social

Top rewards