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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Interview with 12 Century Werewolf Bisclavaret

Interview of Bisclavret
Tonight’s special guest is Bisclavret, a 12th Century werewolf. Yes, I said 12th Century as in the year 1154. I knew I wanted to interview him because his story always captivated me. A story about a werewolf written by a woman, Marie de France a French poet. She was born in Normandy and later moved to France. She was the first known writer to write in French. Some say she was the half-sister of King Henry II. She reminds me a lot of Mary Shelly who wrote Frankenstein in 1818 in that she loved a good horror story and had the freedom to write one. She wrote fables mostly about beasts and twelve short narrative tales. Bisclavret is one of her ‘lais’or a rhyming story. Bisclavret is about a man who turns into a werewolf and is betrayed into remaining a wolf by his wife. Here is a link to the complete poem

I believe in parallel universes whereby each version can be true. Through the magic of my Lunar Orb I have brought back Bisclavret to ask him about his life and let you the reader, decide, was he evil or misunderstood. We met here at the Werewolf Café. Feel free to send your comment questions to Bisclavret.
Eva: I watched the dim moon of tonight’s penumbral lunar eclipse. Such an eclipse allows Bisclavret to appear human. The door to the café creaks open and in walk a tall broad shouldered knight. He nods at me and settles his bulk on the chair. “Sir Bisclavret, I’m so pleased you could make it.”
Bisclavret: “Pleasure is mine.”
Eva: His grin was wolfish with a glint of sharp white fangs. “Tell me how is it that you became a wolf?”
Biscalvret: “At the age of thirteen while I was hunting in the woods on a hot full moon night I decided to take a dip in a pool of water. I tossed my clothes on top of a wolf print. I thought nothing of it. But when I left the pool my joints twisted, my hands clawed and my teeth grew into fangs. In a matter of moments I was a wolf.

After 3 days I woke up as a man and put my clothes on. A faun came out of the woods and told me if I did not put on my clothes within three days that I would remain a wolf.”
Eva: So your family did not know?
Bis.: “No, I kept it a secret all those years. The faun had warned me never to tell anyone.”
Eva: “So you would go out and always become a wolf on the full moon?”
Bis: “Yes, it is magnificent to feel the earth beneath you paws, the smell of every creature in the forest and the ability to hear the faintest of sounds.”

Eva: The waiter brought us a fine bottle of Bordeaux. He poured Bisclavret a sample. The werewolf took a whiff and closed his eyes as, breathing in ecstasy the way a cat sniffs catnip. I wondered what it would be like to have such a strong sense of smell.
Bis: He sipped and loudly smacked his lips. “T’is a long time since I have tasted wine with such rich flavors.”
Eva: The waiter poured me a glass and filled his. I swallowed not sipped as one should. “You lived long ago. Though you kept your shape shifting a secret, tell me what your normal life was like.”
Bis: “I was considered one of the bravest and most gallant of knights of Brittany. No one could best me in sword. The King admired me and we became the best of friends. The king granted me a fief as a reward for my chivalry. Lands and titles, the envy of many.”

Eva: When I was younger and read the story of Bisclavret I always felt bad for his wife, who in the end was disfigured by his bite. I hesitated knowing this would be a touchy subject. “Tell me about your wife.” He paused, a feral look in those dark eyes. A tense moment interrupted by our server bringing sweat meat pies on the table.
Bis: “I was once married to the most beautiful woman in all of Brittany. A woman of such fine manners and lineage, who I courted for years before seeking her hand in holy matrimony.”
Eva: “What was her name?”
Bis: “I do not say her name out loud. Suffice it to say I shall call her Lady M.”
Eva: I felt like a couples counselor for werewolf marriages gone wrong. “What happened between you and Lady M.”
Bis: He took in a breath before continuing. “In the beginning we were happy and I thought very much in love. But then she grew suspicious when on each full moon I disappeared for three days.”
Eva: I snickered. “No doubt she thought you were a player.”
Bis: Raised a brow. “Pray madam, what do you mean by player?”
Eva: “A man who is having an affair or a tryst with another woman.”
Bis: His eyes widened. “Precisely, she accused me of having a tryst. When I told her that was not the reason I disappeared she insisted I tell her the truth. Mind you I had never told anyone. But she pestered me until I finally I relented. She was after all my wife. I told her I hide my cloths since without them I would remain a wolf.”
Eva: “How did she react that you were a werewolf?”
Bis: “Naturally she was horrified. She then begged me to tell her where I hid the clothes. In case I forgot. I told her I would never forget. She insisted I tell her and I did. I noticed that when I disappeared to feed my wolfish hunger, she too disappeared. I thought nothing of it until much later.”
Eva: “So she hid your clothes and you remained a wolf?”
Bis: His eyes grew sad. “She and her lover took them and locked them away. I remained a wolf for a year. She declared me dead and was allowed to marry her lover.”
Eva: “Then you befriended the king. Tell us, what happened next.” I was spellbound by the tale.
Bis: His eyes gleamed. “The king was on a hunt in my woods. I managed to convince him with human like gestures that I was as smart as a man, which after all I was. He kept me as a royal pet and allowed me to attend every feast. On one feast my wife and her new husband had been invited. On seeing them I lost my mind and nipped her nose and then tried to kill him before the king’s knights intervened.”
Eva: “And how did the king react?”
Bis: “He knew I had always been kind. Lady M and her husband were persuaded to confess.”
Eva: No doubt tortured. “So she admitted to hiding your clothes?”
Bis: “Yes. My clothes were returned and justice was served by having them banished from the kingdom.”
Eva: “I heard you bit her nose off and that all of her daughters were born disfigured.”

Bis: He laughed. “Is that what they say, madam?”
Eva: I nodded.
Bis: “I nipped a piece off but as far as I know her children were normal.”
Eva: “And did the king fear a werewolf in his flock?”
Bis: “Nay, all my land and titles were returned. I married a woman who was a healer and had seen me in the woods and even known where I had hidden my clothes. She was someone I trusted.”
Eva: That part of the story was never mentioned and I was glad that his wife’s betrayal had not embittered him to all women as I originally thought. “You must realize that there are similar tales to yours.”
Bis: “So I have heard. In Ireland there is ‘Lai de Melion’ and the king is King Arthur. And the lesser known story, ‘Arthur and Gorlagon’.”
Eva: I nodded. “Gorlagon’s story is far more gruesome.”
Bis: He grinned with shiny long canines. “I like how Gorlagon kept her lover’s head in a glass jar.”
Eva: “Gorlagon seemed so sinister that I named an antagonist in my latest novel, White Wolf of Avalon.” I winked. “I also named my bad werewolf in Werewolf Sanctuary after you. Of course not because of you but because I liked your name.”

Bis: “I am honored madam.” He threw a wolfish grin. “I must go now. Please keep my clothes well hidden.”
Eva: The lunar eclipse over he hastily disrobed and handed me his clothes for safe keeping. He slammed the door open and ran to the woods. I ran and shouted. “Thank you for the interview!” Not long after I heard a lone howl on a hill above the Werewolf Café. I hid his clothes in a cabinet and touched my nose wondering what it would be like to have it bitten off. I decided I would make sure nothing happened to his garments.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting -- I'd studied French for 6 years and took French lit in college, yet I'd no idea that the first story written in French was that of a werewolf!

And Eva, if you could give details -- without his clothes, was he well-formed? ;-)

Eva Gordon said...

Like all men with the gift of the wolf I must say he was very well formed.

Anonymous said...

I think he is just misunderstood. I am glad he bit his ex wife's nose, she deserved it!

Eva Gordon said...

I would have marveled at his ability to shift instead of betraying him.

Savanna Kougar said...

Eva, what a wolf-tabulis interview. If I'd been his wife, I would have wanted to run as a wolf alongside him.