Marie de France's Breton Lais and the Middle English Adaptations
Marie's lais are available in Norman-French in this edition from University of Manitoba. Judith Shoaf's Modern English verse translations of eight of the twelve lais, including "Lanval" and "Le Fresne," are available from the online journal, Exemplaria. Shoaf's introductory note about translating Marie will help you think about the difference between reading the lais in verse or reading them in the Burgess-Busby prose translation. Also see Burgess and Busby's "Translator's Note" (37-38) and think about our conversation regarding translation as interpretation.
The Middle English poems clearly are related to Marie's poems in some fashion. They were composed later than hers by at least two centuries. They may have been based directly upon her poems, indirectly via a intermediary translation of her poems into Middle English with relatively few changes, or indirectly via a common source used by Marie and by the author of the Middle English poems. What differences in plot, character, or style do you see in the Middle English versions of "Lanval" and "Le Fresne"? What is "English" about them?