Click on the link above to read a preview of my book, The Infinite Character of King Arthur: His History and Legend, His Camelot and Avalon! You don’t need to sign in, it should take you straight to the preview!
Hope all of you in the Northeast are home safe and warm from Storm Juno!
I just wanted to let you know that the kindle version of Mirrored Voices is now available for pre order from Amazon!
It’s an amazing collection of poetry from a talented group of people that I was lucky enough to work with.
Make it a great day! 🙂
All My Best,
Jill M Roberts
In the 1450s, Sir Thomas Malory sat down at his prison table to write his glorious Le Morte d’Arthur. He had sent for a rich and exciting library of Arthurian romances, a few of them in middle English but far more in French, and these he translated, condensed and extended, amended and dramatised to create the Arthurian story as it is known to English-speaking audiences worldwide. That we understand just what he translated, and how, we owe to the devoted, painstaking life’s work of my former colleague Professor Fanni Bogdanow, who has died aged 86.
Fanni’s life story was as remarkable as any romance. She was born in Düsseldorf, Germany. When she was 11, in 1939 and just in time, her parents loaded her on to a Kindertransport train bound for Britain. She was taken in by a Quaker family in Manchester to whom she remained very grateful. In 1945, she won a scholarship to study French at Manchester University; she was to stay at Manchester, as undergraduate, postgraduate, lecturer, reader and professor, for the rest of her life. Her parents, astonishingly, survived between them Dachau, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen; to Fanni’s intense joy, her mother later joined her in Manchester.
Meanwhile, however, inspired by Eugène Vinaver, then the pre-eminent Malory scholar, Fanni encountered what was until then an invisible romance, the post-Vulgate Grail. The Vulgate cycle of Arthurian romances, incorporating the story of Arthur’s kingdom, the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, and of the grail, is a product of the early 13th century. What Malory knew was not that version, which is canonical in French, but another Arthuriad, the post-Vulgate “Graal”, which Fanni herself reconstructed from an incomplete version in French and major segments in Spanish and Portuguese: not just reconstructed, but published, in five sizeable volumes, under the title La Version Post Vulgate de la Queste del Saint Graal et de la Mort Artu, between 1991 and 2001.
Perhaps no one other than Fanni would have had the stubborn commitment to complete the edition: when the publishers got her typescript, but told her that unless the romance was in camera-ready form they could not contemplate it, she taught herself to word-process and produced – perhaps to their dismay – thousands of perfectly accurate pages. Every page, every word of this magnum opus required her to compare and collate; she needed to master two further romance languages; she scurried across Europe in pursuit of manuscripts; and she published hundreds of articles, many of them entitled “Another Undiscovered Manuscript of …”, which charted her crusading exploration of her chosen texts.
All this industry, all this dedication, meant that she was not the easiest of colleagues. She had little or no sympathy for anything written later than 1300 and if driven to teach subsidiary students elementary French, or approaches to Gide or Sartre, she would do so with amiable but determined perplexity.
Medieval literature she taught with a bright-eyed enthusiasm that mystified generations of undergraduates – but they remember her vividly, when they have long forgotten more tedious conventional seminars.
TROO-buh-dawr, -dohr, -door
one of a class of medieval lyric poets who flourished principally in southern France from the 11th to 13th centuries, and wrote songs and poems of a complex metrical form in langue d’oc, chiefly on themes of courtly love. Compare trouvère.
any wandering singer or minstrel.
One day a troubadour appeared at the castle and was invited to stay and sing for the nobleman’s court.
— Thomas Sanchez , Day of the Bees , 2000
…whenever a troubadour lays down the guitar and takes up the sword trouble is sure to follow.
— O. Henry , Sixes and Sevens , 1902
While the origin of troubadour is not entirely known, it is thought to have come from Old Provencal trobar meaning “to find,” “invent a song” or compose in verse.
Dear IAS-NAB members,
At the business meeting of the IAS-NAB in May, the members present proposed and approved by vote four sessions for Kalamazoo 2014. Subsequently, the congress organizers of the Medieval Institute approved only three of the four topics and told us we could only offer two panels, leaving to us the choice of those two. After consultation with our Executive Advisory Committee, a consensus emerged that the following two would probably have the widest appeal and attract the most proposals:
1. Anti-formalist Arthur: Postmodern Perspectives on Medieval Arthurian Texts – organized by Steve Atkinson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2. Lost in Translation: Negotiating Foreign Languages in Arthurian Literature – organized by Michael Twomey (email@example.com) and Bonnie Wheeler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you are on the congress mailing list, you will soon receive the official Call for Papers for all the sessions approved for 2014. You may already consult it online at:
http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/files/call-for-papers-2014.pdf. As you know, proposals are due by 15 September. They should be submitted directly to me as the contact person (email@example.com), with a copy to the organizer(s) of the session.
Although we were dismayed that only two of the four sessions we proposed were approved, many other sponsoring organizations suffered a similar fate. I was told by the congress organizers that this across-the-board reduction stemmed from their desire both to offer as diversified a program as possible and to keep the number of sessions at a manageable level. They claim to have received many more proposals than usual for next year. The sponsoring organizations that fared the best proposed a variety of activities, e.g., a session of papers, a round table, and a performance. We may do better next year if we are a little more innovative in the kinds of sessions we propose!
Joan Tasker Grimbert
Professor of French & Medieval Studies
The Catholic University of America
Was Guinevere really an adulteress?
Explorations in Arthurian History
This tradition is to be found entirely in the Legends. The story of Arthur’s queen, whom Geoffrey of Monmouth calls Ganhumara, goes back a long way. The Triads refer to Arthur’s three queens, all named Gwenhwyfar, the Welsh spelling. Welsh tradition also has the story of Gwenhwyfar’s abduction by Melwas. Two versions of the end of this episode exist: The first has Arthur riding to her rescue and killing Melwas; the second has Gildas, a 6th-century monk who wrote in Arthur’s time and who mentioned Badon Hill but did not mention Arthur, as the mediator in the dispute.
The legends, of course, would change this rescuer to Lancelot and would incorporate this story into the Love Triangle aspect of the relationship between Arthur’s best knight and his queen. But Lancelot is entirely the creation of Chretien de Troyes and is as such no part of historical investigation. As for Mordred, whom Geoffrey calls Modred and whom scholars think was also called Medraut, the tale of his seizing the throne with the help of the queen is to be found in Geoffrey. Later writers would hold Guinevere blameless in this, but Geoffrey says she broke her marriage vows to Arthur and settled in as Modred’s queen. When Arthur returned to fight his nephew, Guinevere fled to a nunnery (Geoffrey doesn’t say which) and lived out her days there in penitance.
Explorations in Arthurian Legend
We can point to one man to give us the Lancelot-Guinevere adultery story: Chretien de Troyes. He it was who invented Lancelot and added him to Arthur’s court as a Knight of the Round Table. He it was who said the queen so loved Arthur’s First Knight that she gave herself to him willingly. He it was who said the two were so ashamed and yet not shameful.
Other writers would build on this theme. Sir Thomas Malory put forward the idea that Arthur’s continuing to turn a blind eye (or not knowing at all) would serve as a measure of mistrust of his authority by his knights; they also would doubt his ability to rule if he couldn’t see or admit such an obvious thing. Malory would add the story of how Arthur found his queen guilty of treason and sentenced her to death by being burned at the stake and how Lancelot rescued her and carried her off. Arthur and Lancelot fought, of course, and Malory follows Geoffrey in placing Guinevere in a nunnery.
Tennyson finds the adultery to be the cause of all that is wrong with Arthur’s court. Because of his sin, Lancelot cannot behold the full glory of the Holy Grail. Because of the sin’s being known, Balin and Pelleas go mad. Modern writers would treat the adultery as a matter of course and even suggest that it was inevitable becaue Guinevere didn’t really love Arthur.
© DW, King Arthur: A Man for the Ages
Identity Quote from Le Morte d’Arthur
“This nyght ye shalle lye with Igrayne in the castel of Tyntagyll; and ye shalle be lyke the duke her husband.” (5.8-9)
Arthur is conceived when Uther swaps identities with Igrayne’s husband, Gorlois – the duke. Of course this disguise makes Arthur’s right to the throne all the more confusing. Who is going to believe that this illegitimate child with a murky history can legitimately be King of England? Not the alliance of Northern Kings, that much is sure.