The Brut is a 16,069-line mythical history of England translated and revised from Latin and French nearly one thousand years ago by someone named Layamon. There are two surviving handwritten copies of the Brut poem–one severely damaged by fire. Like most stories, the Brut is highly unstable and there is no true original. In this edition, two scenes from Frederic Madden’s 1847 transcriptions of the manuscripts appear alongside a modern translation. A lot can happen in 16,096 lines. There is room for recurrence–for a hero to become a scather and to be scathed in return. These fragments reveal the poem’s echoing violence and the moral complexity of King Arthur.
RECTO: Arthur and his knights hear report of a brutal killer. Shortly after, they dismember him.
VERSO: Arthur dreams about the violent end of his reign. Most of his dreams come true.
I created a modern translation of these sections of the poem and then printed them on a Vandercook press. The following images are sort of like a time-lapse of my project: