The Cornwall Workshop

Field Trip 6: Tristan and Iseult in Cornwall

Jeremy Millar first became fascinated by the story of Tristan and Iseult in 1998 while writing about a film by Tacita Dean that made explicit reference to Tristan’s ‘voyage de guérison’, or healing journey. It was while listening to Wagner’s opera that other connections began to form, Tristan now becoming Tristan de Cuhna left drifting upon the currents, injured and blinded, and that blinding bringing to mind the most famous in all cinema, in Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou (1929), with Wagner’s Liebstod on its soundtrack. Such diverse connections have led Millar to consider the story of Tristan and Iseult as somewhat universal, which recently led him to record a new variation of the story on Kiriwina, a small coral island off the coast of Papua New Guinea, told here in the native language and weaving it into the native myths of the island.

But Tristan and Iseult also remains a story that is incredibly rooted in a particular landscape, and this field trip returns the story to its Cornish source, beginning at Castle Dore, the ‘strong-hold of King Mark’, before proceeding to the nearby Church of St. Sampson. It was to this church that Iseult rode to give thanks after her reconciliation with King Mark, and in which they made their devotions in state. The field trip will gather here to listen to an introductory talk by Millar, as well as readings by the poet and literary translator Jane Tozer. After lunch, a ferry will bring the party from Malpas downriver to Falmouth, bringing to a watery end a field trip on a very watery story.

Read Jane Tozer’s biography and her thoughts on Lovers in a Cornish Landscape (pdf).

Read Matt Cox’s report on the Tristan and Iseult field trip on the Record page.

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