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An Author’s Journey: Worlds of Medieval Literature (4) King Arthur, Pt 1: Introduction (The Basics)

"The Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon" (Edward Coley Burne-Jones, oil on canvas, 1898)

“The Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon” (Edward Coley Burne-Jones, oil on canvas, 1898)

An Author’s Journey: Worlds of Medieval Literature (4) King Arthur, Pt 1: Introduction (The Basics)

Good Morning, Everyone!

"Merlin taking away the infant Arthur" (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory's "The Boy's King Arthur," 1917)

“Merlin taking away the infant Arthur” (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory’s “The Boy’s King Arthur,” 1917)

For the past few months, I’ve been reviewing the various kinds of medieval literature that modern-day epic fantasists might use to inform their story-telling, and today we finally reach one of my favorite topics, the Arthurian legend!

Before I get into how Arthurian romances and themes can be used by modern fantasists, let’s have some fun in reviewing the facts about King Arthur.  As usual, I’ll begin the topic as if I were teaching a seminar, with some text-book background for you blog-loving medieval literature students to prepare for the in-class fun!

"King Arthur" (miniature, from Matthew Paris "Flores Historiarum," c. 1250, Ms 6712 [A.6.89, fol. 53])

“King Arthur” (miniature, from Matthew Paris “Flores Historiarum,” c. 1250, Ms 6712 [A.6.89, fol. 53])


[Begin excerpt, from both Britannica.com & Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th Ed, V. 23, p.100. [entries for: “Arthur,” “Arthurian Legend,” & “Arthurian Romance”]

“Arthur, legendary British king who appears in a cycle of medieval romances (known as the matter of Britain) as the sovereign of a knightly fellowship of the Round Table. It is not certain how or where (in Wales or in those parts of northern Britain inhabited by Brythonic-speaking Celts) these legends originated or whether the figure Arthur was based on a historical person.”

6th-7th Transmission of Arthurian Legend? Medieval Mont Saint-Michel as crossroads between early medieval British & French cultures (Benedictine monastery on mound in Brittany, a high-tide in the English Channel)

6th-7th Transmission of Arthurian Legend? Medieval Mont Saint-Michel as crossroads between early medieval British & French cultures (Benedictine monastery on mound in Brittany, a high-tide in the English Channel)

[continue Britannica excerpt] “The Arthurian legend [that subsequently developed] is a body of stories and medieval romances, known as the matter of Britain, centering on the legendary King Arthur.  The story seems to have developed first in the British Isles, before being taken to the Continent by the Britons, who migrated to Brittany in the 6th & 7th Centuries.”

Celtic Origins of the Arthurian Legend: "Garden of the Hesperides," in Rolleston et al's "The High Deeds of Finn & Other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland" (illus. by Stephen Reid)

Celtic Origins of the Arthurian Legend: “Garden of the Hesperides,” in Rolleston et al’s “The High Deeds of Finn & Other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland” (illus. by Stephen Reid)

"Cuchulain Slays the Hound of Culain" (illus. by Stephen Reid, from Hull's "The Boys' Cuchulain," 1904)

“Cuchulain Slays the Hound of Culain” (illus. by Stephen Reid, from Hull’s “The Boys’ Cuchulain,” 1904)

[continue Britannica excerpt] “The core of the legend about Arthur and his knights derives from lost Celtic mythology. Many of the incidents in the former parallel the deeds of such legendary Irish characters as Cú Chulainn, an Ulster warrior said to have been fathered by the god Lug, and Finn, hero of the Fenian cycle about a band of warriors defending Ireland, both of whom are gods transformed into human forces.

"And when they came to the sword that the hand held, King Arthur took it up." (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory's "The Boy's King Arthur," 1917)

“And when they came to the sword that the hand held, King Arthur took it up.” (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory’s “The Boy’s King Arthur,” 1917)

Assumptions that a historical Arthur led Welsh resistance to the West Saxon advance from the middle Thames are based on a conflation of two early writers, the religious polemicist Gildas and the historian Nennius, and on the Annales Cambriae of the late 10th century. The 9th-century Historia Brittonum, traditionally attributed to Nennius, records 12 battles fought by Arthur against the Saxons, culminating in a victory at Mons Badonicus.

Le Morte d'Arthur — The Battle of Cad Camlan, Arthur vs. Mordred (art by Arthur Rackham)

Le Morte d’Arthur — The Battle of Cad Camlan, Arthur vs. Mordred (art by Arthur Rackham)

“The Arthurian section of this work, however, is from an undetermined source, possibly a poetic text. The Annales Cambriae also mention Arthur’s victory at Mons Badonicus (516) and record the Battle of Camlann (537), “in which Arthur and Medraut fell.” Gildas’ De excidio et conquestu Britanniae (mid-6th century) implies that Mons Badonicus was fought in about 500 but does not connect it with Arthur.

Early Welsh literature quickly made Arthur into a king of wonders and marvels. The 12th-century prose romance Kullwch and Olwen associated him with other heroes, this conception of a heroic band, with Arthur at its head, doubtless leading to the idea of Arthur’s court.”

"Merlin & Vivien" (from Tennyson's "Idylls of the King," illus. by Gustave Doré, 1867)

“Merlin & Vivien” (from Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King,” illus. by Gustave Doré, 1867)

 

"Lancelot & Guinevere" (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory's "The Boy's King Arthur," 1917)

“Lancelot & Guinevere” (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory’s “The Boy’s King Arthur,” 1917)

[continue Britannica excerpt] “Medieval writers, especially the French, variously treated stories of Arthur’s birth, the adventures of his knights, and the adulterous love between his knight Sir Lancelot and his queen, Guinevere. This last situation and the quest for the Holy Grail (the vessel used by Christ at the Last Supper and given to Joseph of Arimathea) brought about the dissolution of the knightly fellowship, the death of Arthur, and the destruction of his kingdom.

"Sir Mador's spear brake all to pieces, but the other's spear held." (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory's "The Boy's King Arthur," 1917)

“Sir Mador’s spear brake all to pieces, but the other’s spear held.” (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory’s “The Boy’s King Arthur,” 1917)

“Stories about Arthur and his court had been popular in Wales before the 11th century; European fame came through Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britannia (1135–38), celebrating a glorious and triumphant king who defeated a Roman army in eastern France but was mortally wounded in battle during a rebellion at home led by his nephew Mordred. Some features of Geoffrey’s story were marvelous fabrications, and certain features of the Celtic stories were adapted to suit feudal times. The concept of Arthur as a world conqueror was clearly inspired by legends surrounding great leaders such as Alexander the Great and Charlemagne. Later writers, notably Wace of Jersey and Lawamon, filled out certain details, especially in connection with Arthur’s knightly fellowship (the Knights of the Round Table).”

Chrétien de Troyes, "Perceval, le Conte du Graal" (Ferdinand Leeke, 1912)

Chrétien de Troyes, “Perceval, le Conte du Graal” (Ferdinand Leeke, 1912)

"The Death of Guinevere" (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory's "The Boy's King Arthur," 1917)

“The Death of Guinevere” (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory’s “The Boy’s King Arthur,” 1917)

[continue Britannica excerpt] “Using Celtic sources, Chrétien de Troyes in the late 12th century made Arthur the ruler of a realm of marvels in five romances of adventure. (Erec, Yvain, Le Chevalier de la Charette, and an unfinished Perceval).  He also introduced the themes of the Grail and the love of Lancelot & Guinevere into Arthurian legend. Prose romances of the 13th century explored these major themes further. An early prose romance centering on Lancelot seems to have become the kernel of a cyclic work known as the Prose Lancelot, or Vulgate Cycle (c. 1225).

Sir Bedivere returning Excalibur (art by Aubrey Beardsley, in Sir Thomas Malory’s "Le Morte D' Arthur")

Sir Bedivere returning Excalibur (art by Aubrey Beardsley, in Sir Thomas Malory’s “Le Morte D’ Arthur”)

The Lancelot theme was connected with the Grail story through Lancelot’s son, the pure knight Sir Galahad, who achieved the vision of God through the Grail as fully as is possible in this life, whereas Sir Lancelot was impeded in his progress along the mystic way because of his adultery with Guinevere.

Another branch of the Vulgate Cycle was based on a very early 13th-century verse romance, the Merlin by Robert de Boron, that had told of Arthur’s birth and childhood and his winning of the crown by drawing a magic sword, Excalibur, from a stone. The writer of the Vulgate cycle turned this into prose, adding a pseudo-historical narrative dealing with Arthur’s military exploits.”

"The Quest for the Holy Grail" (oil painting, Arthur Hughes, d. 1915)

“The Quest for the Holy Grail” (oil painting, Arthur Hughes, d. 1915)

"The Death of Arthur & Mordred" (N.C. Wyeth, in "The Boy's King Arthur," 1917)

“The Death of Arthur & Mordred” (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory’s “The Boy’s King Arthur,” 1917)

[continue Britannica excerpt] “A final branch of the Vulgate cycle contained an account of Arthur’s Roman campaign and war with Mordred, to which was added a story of Lancelot’s renewed adultery with Guinevere and the disastrous war between Lancelot and Sir Gawain that ensued. A later prose romance, known as the post-Vulgate Grail romance (c. 1240), combined Arthurian legend with material from the Tristan romance.

Inspiration of Medieval Literature: The Arthurian Romances (illustration, Howard Pyle)

Inspiration of Medieval Literature: The Arthurian Romances (illustration, Howard Pyle)

The legend told in the Vulgate cycle and post-Vulgate romance was most popularly transmitted to English-speaking readers in Thomas Malory’s late 15th-century prose Le Morte D’Arthur. At the same time, there was renewed interest in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia, and the fictitious kings of Britain became more or less incorporated with official national mythology. The legend remained alive during the 17th century, though interest in it was by then confined to England. Of merely antiquarian interest during the 18th century, it again figured in literature during Victorian times, notably in Alfred Tennyson’s Idylls of the King.

"Monty Python & the Holy Grail" (Eric Idle, Michael Palin; center from left John Cleese, Terry Jones (helmet), Graham Chapman as King Arthur (Front)

“Monty Python & the Holy Grail” (Eric Idle, Michael Palin; center from left John Cleese, Terry Jones (helmet), Graham Chapman as King Arthur (Front)

"Monty Python & The Holy Grail"

“Monty Python & The Holy Grail”

"Excalibur" (John Boorman, 1981)

“Excalibur” (John Boorman, 1981)

[continue Britannica excerpt] “In the 20th century an American poet, Edwin Arlington Robinson, wrote an Arthurian trilogy, and the American novelist Thomas Berger wrote Arthur Rex (1978). In England T.H. White retold the stories in a series of novels collected as The Once and Future King (1958). His work was the basis for Camelot (1960), a musical by Alan Lerner and Frederick Loewe; a film, also called Camelot (1967), was derived from the musical. Numerous other films have been based on the Arthurian legend, notably John Boorman’s  Excalibur (1981) and the satirical Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).” [End excerpts from both Britannica.com & Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th Ed, V. 23, p.100. [entries for: “Arthur,” “Arthurian Legend,” & “Arthurian Romance”] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/36989/Arthur  http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/37033/Arthurian-legend

And that’s an introduction to the Arthurian legends!

For those readers in the U.S., have a very Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you, Everyone, for taking the time to read my blog this year!

Best,

A.J.

Next time: Major Themes in the Arthurian Romances and Legends

An Author’s Journey: Worlds of Medieval Literature (3) Romance & Chivalry (5) Southern’s “Chansons vs Romance”

Medieval Courtly Romance- St. George & the Dragon (Art by John Howe)

Medieval Courtly Romance- St. George & the Dragon (Art by John Howe)

An Author’s Journey: Worlds of Medieval Literature (3) Romance & Chivalry (5) Southern’s “Chansons vs. Romance”

Good Morning, Everyone!

Richard W. Southern (1912-2001)

Richard W. Southern (1912-2001)

Ugh. Slowed down by a nasty head-cold the last few days, so rather than pulling apart the cotton in my brain to look for an idea, I’m going to rely on a favorite medieval historian’s work to add another view on the rise of romance literature in the 12th Century.

Here’s an excerpt from one of the most beautifully written studies on Medieval Europe, Richard W. Southern’s (1912-2001) The Making of the Middle Ages. For those aspiring epic fantasy writers and general medieval-times enthusiasts, check out how a master — who also, like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis researched and taught at Oxford University — makes a comparison between the two literary forms of chansons de geste & Arthurian romance AND gives a vivid glimpse of the “orders” within medieval society. (For those readers on-the-go with no time for a mini-lecture from one of the foremost medievalists of the 20th Century, I’ve highlighted the parts relevant to what we should take-away from the chanson and “romantic” literary forms when turning their respective lenses onto epic fantasy.)

"The Song of Roland" (Folio Society, illustration by Anna & Elena Balbusso)

“The Song of Roland” (Folio Society, illustration by Anna & Elena Balbusso)

[Begin excerpt: Richard W. Southern, The Making of the Middle Ages]:
… The Song of Roland might have as its sub-title ‘a tale of heroism and treachery on the borders of Christendom’. No doubt part of its enjoyment came from the fact that it was listened to as a piece of real history. It was history seen down from a long perspective, but still it was a piece of real life. We shall never know what it was that turned the obscure disaster which befell Charlemagne’s army on 15 August 778, when Roland Count of Brittany was killed, into one of the most memorable incidences in Christian epic … The poem reflects the ideas of men who have not yet been stirred either to enthusiasm or to opposition by the church doctrines which were becoming widespread in the years following the death of [Pope] Gregory VII. It was taken for granted that an archbishop would be in his place among the fighters and that his counsel and strength in battle would be as good as another’s, or better. The wisdom of the clerk was not distinguished from the wisdom of the layman. And the wisdom of the layman was that of shrewd and practical men. They were men grounded in the externals of feudal custom, well versed in the niceties of the bond which tied them to their lord and to their fellow barons. This was the world which they knew, and about which they felt deeply. They quarreled like schoolboys about the fine points of social obligation and feudal etiquette, for these were the things to which they attached importance. It was a masculine society, and its members were more conscious of the group to which they belonged and of their duty towards it than their own hearts. They were unmoved by the romantic loyalties of the heart. The heroes of the poem speak of women only in the crude way of the camp, and in hours of crisis they think more of their lands than of their loves. The dying Roland had no thought to spare for his betrothed, though she straightaway died on hearing of his death. And when the heroes think of their lands, they also think of the ancient holy places of France, and call upon St. Michael or St. Denis — never on the Virgin. These are the old ways of piety; the piety of a localized society closely tied to the places men know.

"Roland and Oliver at the Battle of Roncesvalles" (Achille-Etna Michallon, 1796-1822)

“Roland and Oliver at the Battle of Roncesvalles” (Achille-Etna Michallon, 1796-1822)

"The Song of Roland" (Folio Society, illustration by Anna & Elena Balbusso)

“The Song of Roland” (Folio Society, illustration by Anna & Elena Balbusso)

[continue Southern excerpt]: We are in a limited world, the boundaries of which are clearly marked. It is for the most part…the France from Mont St. Michel to the Rhine and from Boulogne to the Loire, with the coast road to the Pyrenees well mapped. Beyond the Pyrenees lies an unknown Moslem world, a wonder-world of fantasy and evil — a kind of parody of the Christian world, where a strange trinity of Gods, Tervagan [sic, or “Termagant,” a name given to an imaginary god that Christians believed Muslims worshipped], Mahomet, and Apollo, are worshipped in ‘synagogues and mahumeries ’ filled with idols and images. But within the limits of the well known, the impossible is not expected to happen; there is a great respect for the obvious and inescapable limits of Nature. The barons of Charlemagne are indeed men of great strength, but then their muscles are large; and even they, when they meet an overwhelming foe, die. They know that they are in the right, for “Pagans are wrong and Christians are right”, but they also know that a strong Pagan will beat a weak Christian. They have confidence in their saints, but they also shrewdly remark that “men fight well when they know that no prisoners will be taken.”

The barons of the Song of Roland would have been considered “unimaginative” by a later age, and the limits within which the imagination worked were certainly narrow. It was circumscribed by the ties of lordship and vassalage, by the recollections of fiefs and honours and well-known shrines, by the sacred bond of comradeship. The bond between them was precious, and Guanelon and the Moslem king Marsilie, were enemies of society, endangering the Christian commonwealth. They were both external enemies in the sense that they were outside the pale of society, and the opprobrious word ‘felon‘ was applied indifferently to each…

Land of Arthurian Legends (Sunrise in Wales)

Land of Arthurian Legends (Sunrise in Wales)

Medieval Romance: The Quest for the Holy Grail ("Chretien de Troyes, "Yvain," 13th c. ms)

Medieval Romance: The Quest for the Holy Grail (“Chretien de Troyes, “Yvain,” 13th c. ms)

[continue Southern excerpt]:  With the work of Chrétien of Troyes, who was writing in the third quarter of the twelfth century, we enter a new world. His romances are the secular counterpart to the piety of Cîteaux. Of both, love is the theme. Love is an inward thing, and therefore a lonely thing united only to its unique object. So the knight of Chrétien’s romances seeks solitude for the exercise of his essential virtue. It is true that his life is centered on a community — the community of King Arthur’s court — and that his highest virtues have their root in the everyday ties of loyalty to his lord and companions. But thought the court is a school of discipline, it is in a higher sense a place of relaxation where virtue will become rusty unless sharpened by periodic flights into the wilderness. The life of the court forms a picturesque background rather than the focal point of knightly virtue: it’s rules sit lightly on those who aim at high things. In the Song of Roland the highest virtue was that of the good companion and the good vassal, to whom the words baron and prud’homme could be applied; the lowest infamy was that of the felon, the traitor to his lord and companions. In Chrétien, these words have gone a long way to losing their distinctive meaning; felon for instance can be applied to all kinds of things like bad luck or bad looks. The two poles of conduct are represented by words denoting more intimate qualities: courtois and vilain, the gentleman and the lout. These qualities will come out in action, but they refer in the first place to something which a man is in himself, and to the surroundings in which he is at home, the court or the pig styefor vilainis the word also indifferently used for a peasant.

"The Song of Roland" (Folio Society, illustration by Anna & Elena Balbusso)

“The Song of Roland” (Folio Society, illustration by Anna & Elena Balbusso)

Chivalric Romance: A Knight Armed by Lady (from Codex Manesse, 14th c.)

Chivalric Romance: A Knight Armed by Lady (from Codex Manesse, 14th c.)

"The Song of Roland" (Folio Society, illustration by Anna & Elena Balbusso)

“The Song of Roland” (Folio Society, illustration by Anna & Elena Balbusso)

[continue Southern excerpt]:  In the Knights of Arthur, as in those of Charlemagne, there is a great sense of a common objective, but it is a wholly ideal objective, at once quite universal and quite individual. It is unthinkable that the knights of the Song of Roland should fight each other without a breach of their fundamental code of conduct: their ties of loyalty and vassalage were too serious for that. They fight as members of a body. However much a Roland may stand above his fellows in prowess, he takes part in a common action against a common enemy. But in Chrétien the enemy is dispersed; he is everywhere and may be found everywhere. The knights of Chrétien seek the enemy in solitude and in the course of their search they may well find themselves striving against one of their fellow Knights. There was nothing disconcerting in this, for action was only a means to a spiritual end.

[continue Southern excerpt]:  The whole action of Chrétien takes place as it were on the confines of the physical world, where reason and passion do not come up against the brute facts of resistant nature. In the Song of Roland we stand on solid earth, though we have glimpses into the cauldron of unreason behind the curtain of Christendom; but in Chrétien we take a bird’s eye view of earth from above, where all unevenness art leveled out, and from where it seems that men can go anywhere without difficulty but may meet anything by the way. The eye ranges far and wide, but the unknown is close at hand. Danger may lurk under every tree and the nerves are strained in anticipation. There is no security, no friendly society round the camp fire. The world is a wide one and we move effortlessly from Winchester to Regensberg to Constantinople; but wide though it is in geographical extent, it is wider still in the variety and mystery of its contents.

"King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table" (Michel Gantelet, 1472)

“King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table” (Michel Gantelet, 1472)

Inspiration of Medieval Language & Literature: The Arthurian Tradition ("Perceval, Galahad, & Bors Fulfill Grail Quest, art by Roman Pisarev)

Inspiration of Medieval Language & Literature: The Arthurian Tradition (“Perceval, Galahad, & Bors Fulfill Grail Quest, art by Roman Pisarev)

[continue Southern excerpt]:  The Song of Roland told the story of an action in which each man had a part to play, and played it well or ill. Chrétien’s knights are engaged, not in an action, but in a quest, which each man must undertake alone. A quest for what? Ostensibly for knightly adventure, but really for adventures of the heart. Chrétien’s stories are stories of the heart in search of love, and his most penetrating passages are those where he analyses the strange twists and contradictions of the passions. Since he is writing stories and not a treatise he does not aim at a systematic doctrine; yet a a systematic treatise could be written from his stories. It would distinguish three stages in the quest. The first is the life of the court, where men and women entertain each other with agreeable attentions without any serious wounds being given or received. Then [secondly] there is the stage of the lonely peril, grief and exertion in which the heart feels the wounds of love without attaining the assured possession of its object. Beyond this there is the third stage, always in the future, in which the heart and its desired object are perfectly joined in an unbreakable union. It was within these three stages that Chrétien’s stories were chiefly concerned: the stages of journeying, seeking, and suffering.

[continue Southern excerpt]:  A  treatise such as this would have many points of contact with St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s three stages of carnal, rational, and spiritual love. But Chrétien, as an author, was neither religious nor, in intention at least, anti-religious. Religion was part of the furniture of his stories — indeed an essential part, for religious observance was one of the elements of good breeding. But the Christianity of Chrétien is an affair of externals, providing plenty of bishops and clerks to add to the dazzling throng, and a rich pageantry of mitres and croziers at weddings. The real internal religion of the heart was untouched by Christianity. There is in Chrétien none of the melancholy, none of the sense of the sinfulness of the heart, which we sometimes find in [Sir Thomas] Malory.  Chrétien probes the heart, but it is the enameled heart of the twelfth-century secular world, not yet made tender by the penetration of strong religious feeling. There is nothing in Chrétien like the passage from Morte d’Arthur when Guinevere takes leave of Lancelot.

The religious and the romantic quests were born in the same world — Troyes is only about thirty miles from Clarivaux —and drew in part on the same sources of inspiration, but they were in the twelfth century kept rigidly apart. There were indeed the great alternatives opened out to the imagination in the mid-twelfth century… [End excerpt, Richard W. Southern, The Making of the Middle Ages, Yale University Press, New York & New Haven, 1953; pp. 241-246]

Inspiration of Medieval Language & Literature: Romance ("Lancelot at the Chapel of the Holy Grail," Edward Burne-Jones, 1870)

Inspiration of Medieval Language & Literature: Romance (“Lancelot at the Chapel of the Holy Grail,” Edward Burne-Jones, 1870)

Norman F. Cantor (1929-2004)

Norman F. Cantor (1929-2004)

Norman F. Cantor, Inventing the Middle Ages

Norman F. Cantor, Inventing the Middle Ages

The medieval historian, Norman F. Cantor, titled the chapter on his mentor Southern “The Once and Future King” (in apt reference to the impact Southern had on medieval studies in the mid-20th Century), and highlighted the transformation this historian created in The Making of the Middle Ages, a transformation that Cantor synopsized into five questions:

(1) granted that the romantic movement of the 12th century augmented self-consciousness, to what extent did it articulate a concept of individualism, the appreciable autonomy of the individual?
(2) can we separate a secular romanticism in twelfth-century culture from a much-enhanced spirituality in practical mysticism?
(3) did 12th-century culture depart from the heightened sensibility and self-consciousness that we usually identify with romanticism to attain a new naturalism in perceiving the physical world and to a psychological realism in assessment of heterosexual human relationships? or are this naturalism and this psychological realism part of the whole romantic movement itself?
(4) what specific aspects of ancient eroticism (Plato, Ovid, etc.) inspired medieval romanticism? how did the romantic movement draw upon, interpret, and absorb these aspects of the classical heritage?
(5) there is the whole issue of the relationship between the rise of popular heresy and counterchurch movements and facets of spiritual and secular romanticism. Was radical religion a confrontational extension of romanticism or possibly a conservative reaction against it?

Even were I not wandering through a haze of congestion and fever, there’d still be no better bridge between the early medieval form of the chansons de geste and the high medieval romantic literature than this book by Richard Southern.

Thanks for visiting!
A.J.

Next time: King Arthur & High Medieval Romance

P.S.  For those interested in reading more of R. W. Southern’s works (and I recommend all of them), here’s a bibliographical list from Wikipedia:

  • “Ranulf Flambard and Early Anglo-Norman Administration”, Alexander Prize Essay (1933)
  • The Making of the Middle Ages (1953)
  • Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages (1962)
  • The Life of St Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, by Eadmer (as editor and translator) (1962, 2nd ed. 1972)
  • St Anselm and His Biographer (1963)
  • Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages (1970)
  • Medieval Humanism and Other Studies (1970)
  • Robert Grosseteste: The Growth of an English Mind in Medieval Europe (1986, 2nd ed. 1992)
  • St. Anselm: A Portrait in a Landscape (1992)
  • Scholastic Humanism and the Unification of Europe, Vols. I & II (1997, 2001)
  • History and Historians: Selected Papers of R. W. Southern, edited by Robert Bartlett (2004)

 

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