Arthur (was Re: Help wanted: arthurian novels)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sun Sep 28 16:19:55 EDT 2003


Elise wrote:

>Minnow wrote (snip):

[more snip]
>'So one can see why Elise
>might get the idea that "late" and "Launcelot" are linked, if she consulted
>the standard sources for information on English (as opposed to French)
>literature.'
>
>Just so!  But my concern did not have to do with my own feelings or
>preferences regarding canon or folklore, but with my willingness to go along
>with what the author of whatever fiction work I am reading, in this case
>Cornwell's Arthur retelling, seems to be setting out to do.

Ah!  All is now clear.  It's a question of internal consistency?  So if one
of Arthur's knights (if it were set in the Dark Ages) suddenly turned out
to be an expert sabrist, or a jiu-jitsu master, you would be similarly
disinclined to accept it as "fitting" in the work?

>In this instance, it seemed to me that Cornwell's jumping off point for his
>retelling was the question, 'What if Arthur was a real figure in post-Roman
>Britain, a warlord/or dux bellorum who fought the Saxons?'  And then he was
>off from the starting gate telling this story, envisioning this 'what if,'
>at a ripping pace.
>Half way through, along comes Lancelot.
>'What his *he* doing here?'  I asked myself.  'I didn't think it was that
>kind of story at all.'

I have always rather thought that a chap such as Arthur, who was trying to
pull together a group of toughs and turn them into an army, would not have
had a chance of doing so if he was being cuckolded in an obvious way,
because the rest of that potential army would then have thought him a wimp
for not dealing decisively with his rival -- and a wimp isn't what is
wanted for a war-leader.

[snip touching account of marital understanding -- you lucky lady you!]

>Minnow:
>'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?'

>He's not part of her 'What if,' is he?

Apparently not.  I don't think the absence of his part of the cycle leaves
a gaping hole, either.

>Minnow:
>'I don't: that would be for DWJ to do -- she says, Wulf is Wotan/Odin, and
>why shouldn't she put him in if she wants to, since he seemed to fit like
>pounds shillings and ounces?'
>
>That's just it -- it's just a question of fit.  If the author knows it fits,
>whether by intuition or through reason or some mixture of the two, then it
>will come through in the work, and that's enough for me to enjoy the story.
>And since my days of studying literature are behind me, enjoyment is my
>prime motive.

Hey, even when studying literature full-time I still read for pleasure at
least as much as for work!  I'm studying literature for enjoyment too,
after all, or I wouldn't be doing it.  And some of the set texts are
wonderful stuff in their own right anyway, and I would read them for
pleasure -- like *Sir Gawain and the Green Knight*, or *Beowulf*.  Though
it isn't *just* the story, in either of those, it's the skill with which it
is presented that's the joy.

>P.s. hope your thrombosis is sorted, Minnow.

Thank you!  Pretty much, it seems.  Rat-poison (oh, all right, warfarin)
for the foreseeable future, and they reckon I'll be ok.  The hospital
discharged me to my GP yesterday evening, so I assume they don't think I am
likely to get a pulminory embolism, anyhow.  :-)  My leg hurts still and I
can't walk, but that's not a major worry, just a damn' nuisance, and ought
now to improve.

Minnow


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