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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Brief History of Arthuriana

Ruth Nestvold has an interesting and brief overview of the changing state of Arthuriana...the legends and literature surrounding the myths of King Arthur. She is an oft-published author with a PhD in literature.

Nestvold warns that a short article can not be complete considering that there were 200 novels and short stories related to King Arthurin English since 1884. She concentrates, therefore, on the post-WWII retellings. Here are a couple of snippets as teasers for her Arthuriana article at IRoSF.


Deliberately anachronistic and ahistorical, White's novel [The Sword and the Stone] is simultaneously comic and tragic. A number of critics have noted how the books become increasingly bleak, reflecting the fact that the two central books were written during the Second World War.

Regarding this snippet from The Book of Goddesses and Heroines:

….in Welsh mythology, she was said to be a queen of Avalon, the underworld fairyland where King Arthur was carried—some said by Morgan herself—when he disappeared from this world. In some legends, Morgan was Arthur's sister, whereas in other tales she was immortal, living with her eight sisters in Avalon, where she was an artist and a healer.

Nestvold says:

Using such feminist interpretations of the legends, Zimmer Bradley created a new mythology within the framework of the old, one that has substantially contributed to the way we now view Arthurian literature.

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