Impossible tasks (was Re: [DWJ] Catching up)

Minnow minnow at
Wed Aug 30 19:47:48 EDT 2006

>Minnow said:
>I think the collection of Arthur I had as a young child was slightly
>unusual in the stories it included: it had a wonderful
>early-life-of-Merlin opening


and Elizabeth (Evans) replied:

>I had that one too! It was actually one my mother had as a child, so
>must date from at least as early as the 1920s. It had wonderful coloured
>pictures of beautiful maidens and squires in the most romantic clothes.
>No wonder when I first came across the pre-Raphaelites the pictures felt

Ours had been my mother's.  It was a big brown book with a coloured picture
of a knight on a black horse and wearing a red surcoat on the front cover,
and I think it was one of those annoying 'tween-wars books for children
that didn't bother to give any publication date.  The Hans Christian
Anderson in the same edition has survived, probably because none of us
loved him the way we all loved Arthur, and it has no date in it.

Funnily enough, the wonderful illustrations didn't make me fall for the
pre-Raphaelites when I met them.  I thought they were mimsy, mostly, and I
didn't approve of the way their maidens' clothes would have tripped them up
and made it impossible ever to *do* anything in those sleeves.  (I didn't
think much of the cloned mermaids either.)  As far as I remember, the
clothes in the Arthur book would have been possible to walk in, at least.

>I would put this book as a major formative influence on my young life,
>and I re-read it many times, till it was falling to bits.

I think "falling to bits" must have been what happened to ours.

And it was definitely a formative influence on me too!  I think I ought to
blame that book for my having made Sir Gawain the subject of my M.A.
thesis.... <grin> though I don't remember him as having been in it much; I
didn't discover him until rather later on.  But if not for that Arthur I
wouldn't have looked for others, and if I hadn't looked for others I
wouldn't have encountered Gawain.


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