The Romance of the Faery Melusine
translated from a novel by André Lebey
Springing from the heart of medieval France, The Romance of the Faery Melusine tells the story of Raymondin of Poitiers who accidentally kills his uncle while out hunting, and flees deep into the forest until he encounters a faery by a fountain. Struck by a mutual soul-love, the faery Melusine agrees to help him, and to become his wife, on condition that he makes no attempt to see her between dusk and dawn each Saturday. On this basis the house of Lusignan magically thrives, until a treachery tempts Raymondin to violate his promise and shatter the magic which holds his faery wife to the human world.
First rendered into written form in a text by Jean d’Arras in 1393, the legend of the Faery Melusine is well established in France, where she is credited with having founded the family, town and castle of Lusignan. However, it is very little known in the English-speaking world, despite the fact that Melusine originally hailed from Scotland.
This new translation by Gareth Knight of André Lebey’s 1920s novel Le Roman de la Mélusine captures the freshness of Lebey’s retelling of the legend and brings the benefit of Knight’s expertise both in medieval French literature and in the esoteric faery tradition. Gareth Knight is the author of The Faery Gates of Avalon and The Book of Mélusine of Lusignan.
Review from the Inner Light Journal, September 2011:
"We owe a debt of thanks to Gareth Knight for making André Lebey’s work available to us, in what I found to be a vivid and readable style. It is the mediaeval legend, of course, as we may have learned from Mr. Knight’s previous work, but written as a novel, a very French novel. The style may be seen as florid, in the sense that the French “Great Encyclopaedia of Faeries” may also seem florid, but this attention to detail, colour and romance….and this IS a Romance…bring the tale uniquely alive, the imagery is so vital that it is like watching a film.
As you can probably tell, I loved this book. I read it with the music of French folkies “Malicorne” playing in the background, and I savoured every word. Yes, the descriptions are so evocative that one can almost taste them!
Lebey/Knight have achieved a hyperrealism through an almost hallucinatory pageant of minutiae which build and heighten the sense of time and place, of mood, of emotion, creating from the bare bones of legend a world entire. And it’s action packed! All human life is there, love and loss, bravery, betrayal…The people are real, though distant in space and time; we are shown, as it were, a myth through a series of masques or tapestries that dazzle and delight the senses.
Comparisons are odious, but if you are thinking to yourself “the reviewer loves it, but will I?” then if you like what Evangeline Walton did with Celtic myth, you probably will. There is in Lebey/Knight’s book a particularly French sensibility which makes it unique, of course. Here is a master of story weaving his magic and bringing the lovely lady Melusine back to us once more, impressing the legend firmly into our mind’s eye."
Gareth Knight is one of the world’s foremost authorities on ritual magic, the Western Mystery Tradition and Qabalistic symbolism. He trained in Dion Fortune’s Society of the Inner Light, and has spent a lifetime rediscovering and teaching the principles of magic as a spiritual discipline and method of self-realisation. He has written around fifty books covering topics as diverse as Qabalah, history of magic, Arthurian legend, Rosicrucianism, Tarot, Faery, the Inklings (Tolkien, C.S.Lewis et al) and the Feminine Mysteries, as well as several practical books on ritual magic. He has lectured worldwide and is a regular contributor to Inner Light, the journal of the Society of the Inner Light, and Lyra, the Avalon Group journal.
The magical fraternity founded by Gareth Knight in 1973 is now run by his daughter Rebecca, and known as the Avalon Group.