TH White (was William Mayne update)

Ika blake at
Sun Mar 28 05:43:23 EST 2004

Minnow wrote:
> I'd read THW as being very involved in Lancelot's unfortunate relationship
> with the Queen, which started because he was nasty to her and then had to
> be nicer than he wanted to in order to make up for having been a beast --
> that bit reads from-the-heart, to me.

I read (in the biographical essay about THW taking himself off from being
a teacher to train hawks, to take any temptation to sadism-in-practice out
of his way) that in his notes for the books THW wrote that Lancelot was a
sadist, and had to be extra gentle to make up for it - so yes, I think
that bit was from-the-heart/autobiographical.

Me, then Minnow:

>>Anyway, when THW got together with a much younger boyfriend,* he wrote to
>>some friends that "I have found my Wart".
> Perhaps when he referred to "my Wart" in this context, he was thinking of
> a
> non-romantic element in his relationship with the younger man.  He might
> have had ideas about teaching the poor fellow as well as loving him.  Or
> perhaps he was trying to pull the wool over the friends' eyes by
> suggesting
> that the reason for the relationship was not romantic but tutorial?

Ahah! Found the essay. Barry Weller, "Wizards, Warriors and Beast
Glatisant in Love", in Eve Kofosky Sedgwick et al. (eds) _Novel Gazing:
Queer Readings In Fiction_ (Duke Uni Press, 1997). "Like all the best
children's literature," it begins, "T H White's *The Sword in the Stone*
seems darker, more yearning and perverse, when one rereads it as an
adult," which is very nice.

Oh, okay, I'm misremembering slightly. This is the quote from the letter:
"... about seven years ago a living Wart discovered in me a real Merlyn,
just as if we had written The Sword in the Stone about ourselves. He is
now a splendid figure nearly six feet high, and we are still devoted to
each other." THW also said (though it's not clear from the essay whether
it was in the same letter), that "The love part, the emotional bond, is
the most agonizing one - and this I have spared him. I never told him I
loved him or worked on his emotions or made any appeal or forced the
strain on him" - so it's not really obvious what sort of relationship he
had with "Zed". The essay writer makes the fairly minimal statement that
"it's significant that White should narrate the most intense attraction of
his later years in terms of the tutorial bond between Merlyn and Wart",
which is a lot less simplistic than the version I originally gave.

Love, Ika

"It's brilliant, Bernard. Really, it is. Just two really small changes.
Instead of the academic, the daughter and the journalist, perhaps it could
be an elephant? And instead of the Stalinist purges, the divorce and the
investigation, maybe he... loses a balloon?"
- Manny is the best beta-reader ever in Black Books
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