Tirant lo Blanc, written by the Valencian knight Joanot Martorell, finished by Martí Joan De Galba and published in Valencia in 1490, is an epic romance and one of the key works in the evolution of the Western novel. The mediaeval spelling is Tirant lo Blanch; a literal English translation of the title would be The White Knight or Tirant the White, who is the main character of the romance.
Tirant lo Blanc is one of the most important books of Catalan literature and has been described as one of the best books ever written. It is considered a major influence for Miguel de Cervantes' book, Don Quixote de la Mancha, which was written a century later. There are a lot of studies about Tirant lo Blanc, and comparisons between Tirant lo Blanc and El Quijote de la Mancha show many parts that are similar between the two books. The Castilian author said "as far as style is concerned, this is the best book in the world". Although regarded as a masterpiece of late Medieval literature, it is not commonly known now, but it was a success and reprinted and translated or plagiarised many times during the 16th century.
Tirant lo Blanc is a story about a knight — Tirant — from Brittany, who has a series of adventures across Europe (he joins in knightly competitions in England and France) until the Emperor of the Greeks asks him to help in the war against the Turks. Tirant accepts, is made Megaduke of the Empire, becomes the captain of an army, defeats the Turks and saves the Empire, then battles Moors in many regions of the Oriental Mediterranean and Northern Africa, but dies just before he can marry the pretty heiress of the Empire.
Some parts of Tirant bear certain parallels with the life of Admiral Roger de Flor, the leader of the Almogāvers (Catalan and Aragonese mercenaries that helped the Byzantine Empire to fight the Turks), and who was murdered by the Byzantines. There are also comparison with Hyunadi .
The loss of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire (1453) was considered at the time to be a major blow to Christian Europe. In writing his novel Martorell perhaps rewrote history to fit what he wanted it to be.
Two modern translations of the book into English include:
Tirant Lo Blanc, translated by David H. Rosenthal (1983, 1996), ISBN 0801854210
Tirant Lo Blanc: The Complete Translation (Catalan Studies, Vol 1), translated by Ray La Fontaine (1994), ISBN 0820416886
Last updated: 05-18-2005 13:46:13