Books: Love's Old Sad Song

THE ROMANCE OF TRISTAN AND ISEULT—Joseph Bédier—Pantheon Books ($3.50).

For more than a thousand years the legend of Tristan and Iseult has been one of the world's best-loved love stories. Medieval ladies embroidered scenes from the tale on fine linen and silk; medieval craftsmen enshrined the lovers on gold and ivory and wood. Tristan and Iseult were also favored by scores of poets, including Chaucer, Matthew Arnold, Swinburne, Tennyson, Hardy, Edwin Arlington Robinson and by Composer Richard Wagner, who built the legend into an opera.

The earliest version of the legend: around 800 A.D....