Help wanted: arthurian novels

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Tue Sep 23 21:47:04 EDT 2003


>I don't see this as a "definition of late", simply as a comment on the
>Arthurian canon and its relation to *folklore*.  A written account is
>always likely to appear later than the oral version of a folk-tale -- would
>you not agree?

I don't actually think of Arthurian works as folklore at all. They are more 
like a medieval literary movement. I know there are a lot of people with a 
lot invested in the idea of an historical Arthur, but I am certainly not 
one of them.

>Arthur, like Robin Hood, has accrued about him a body of legend, from a
>variety of sources.

Another similarly fictional character.

>Some, such as the Beheading Game, the hunt for the
>Magic Pig, and the man who expiates a rape by discovering "what it is that
>women really want", are believed to go back in English (or rather British,
>since the English arrived after the stories existed) oral tradition a long
>way before the mid to late twelfth century, or even the putative "time of
>King Arthur" five or more hundred years before that.

I am not sure I really believe in an oral tradition of Arthur. It is really 
really hard to find evidence of orality in a large majority of Arthurian 
works, and extremely simple to find evidence of literary "bookishness".

>Let's face it, the whole notion of a bunch of knights in plate-armour and
>with all the trappings of heraldry galloping a wallop around the place in
>the seventh century is pretty anachronistic; and Lancelot is always and
>ever a *knight*, jousting and having his romantic affair and going stark
>wood in a wood for Lerve, all very courtly-love-see-Troubadours (who were
>twelfth century, or perhaps a little earlier but not much, and influenced
>Chretien de Troyes considerably); where does he really fit into the British
>*folklore*?

My response was to the notion of 20th century retellings being based on 
folklore. They're not, mostly they are based on Malory.

>obDWJ, she doesn't use Lancelot in *Hexwood*.  She has Bedevere, Bors,
>Arthur, Merlin, Morgan Le Fay, a good selection of the Old Gang, but not
>Lancelot.  He simply wouldn't fit, would he?

Interesting theory. How do you explain the presence of Wulf/Fitela?

Robyn

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