Help wanted: arthurian novels

Charles Butler hannibal at
Wed Sep 24 04:14:37 EDT 2003

> I don't actually think of Arthurian works as folklore at all. They are
> 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.

I don't see why it can't be all those things - history, folklore and
literary movement. 'Arthurian' is a pretty broad term for a pretty
heterogeneous bunch of material, after all. I don't see how anyone can be
certain one way or the other about the historical side, but it's far from
impossible or even (IMO) implausible that there was some such person,
whether you call him king or dux bellorum or whatever: that period of
British history is just too foggy to know what really went on. And Arthur
does seem to have a kind of folkloric existence in texts like 'Culwch and
Olwen', doesn't he? You're right of course that compared to the medieval
literary accretions these (and the other scattered pre-Geoffrey references)
are thin pickings, but to me they imply that there may once have been much
more 'out there' - Arthurian dark matter if you like. Bad news for
historians both literary and otherwise - good news for writers, of course.


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