Yvain

Sir Owein, the Knight of the Lion

Yvain

CharactersName Variants: Ywain, Owein, Ivain, Uwaine, UwainBackground Essay Author: Alan Lupack
Yvain is the cousin of Gawain and the son of Morgan le Fay and Uriens. As Owain, he appears in the Welsh tale of The Dream of Rhonabwy and is the hero of the Welsh analogue to Chrétien de Troye's Yvain or the Knight of the Lion. Both Chrétien's tale and the Welsh Owain tell the story of Yvain's (or Owain's) adventures as he defeats a knight guarding a fountain and then takes over the protection of that realm himself when he marries the slain knight's wife. Persuaded by Gawain, in the French version, to seek adventure more widely, he leaves his new realm and has a series of adventures which include saving a lion from a serpent. The grateful beast then befriends Yvain and helps him against some of his adversaries. Chrétien's tale inspired the Middle High German Iwein by Hartmann von Aue and was translated into Old Norse as Ivens Saga. The English romance Ywain and Gawain is adapted from Chrétien's Yvain but is much less interested in courtly love. Yvain figures in the French Mort Artu; and in Malory's Morte D'Arthur when Arthur banishes Ywain from court because of Morgan le Fay's attempts on Arthur's life, Gawain rides off with him and they are joined by Marholt. The knights meet three ladies who lead them to adventures. In his retelling of Malory, John Steinbeck radically rewrites this section and has Ewain instructed in knightly...

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