Sunday, June 23, 2013
Obscure Reference. I admit to being starstruck, I must also admit that my awe is not limited to celebrities in the entertainment industry. Not only do I worship at the feet of writers and animators, but scholars hold a special place in my firmament. I am very proud to have the friendship of Dr. Helen Nicholson of Cardiff University. Not only was it her translation of an excerpt from the medieval romance Claris et Laris that inspired this project, but her translation of another romance inspired one of the asides in this week's page. I take the liberty, then, of linking to her translation of the anonymous early 13th century romance "Melion." (Please note that the copyright to this translation is owned by Dr. Nicholson.)
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Sunday, June 9, 2013
In the earlier romances, Sir Gawain was the noblest and strongest of Arthur's knights before he was supplanted by Lancelot as a paragon of chivalry and courtly love. Gawain is the eldest of the sons of Arthur's half sister Morgause. There are five in all, and they run 3 to 2 in terms of nobility vs. dastardliness. We've known Mordred for some time and we Agravain last week. They cover the dastardly side of the family. To clarify things (or make them even murkier - we'll see) here is a chart of Arthur's extended family culled from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and T.H. White's wonderful compilation of novels The Once and Future King.
Dame Ragnell's protean condition deserves explanation, which I think is best served in a tale. Below is a link to a modern translation of the 15th century Middle English poem, "The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell." Some might recognize it as also the Wife of Bath's Tale from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It is one of my favorite stories to tell, and I am proud to have been hired to tell this story as a wedding present. Some do say it containeth the secret of a happy marriage.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
A word of explanation: Mordred is King Arthur’s son, as has been established. He is also the brother of Agravain, who is not Arthur’s son. Agravain is Arthur’s nephew. If Agravain wants to be judgmental, he might look to his right. Or, for that matter, look to his mother, who, according to the romances, was Arthur’s sister Morgause, the wife of King Lot of Lothian and Orkney, who cast a spell upon the young king and seduced him, and the result of this action was Mordred. The more generous romancers maintained that neither Arthur nor Morgause knew of their relationship. Others saw it as a deliberate way to get revenge for the death of her father, Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, whom Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon, had had killed whilst he seduced Igraine, Gorlois' wife and Morgause's mother (and mother of the enchantress Morgan Le Fay). Sir Thomas Malory, who tied it all together in Le Morte d’Arthur, doesn’t have his characters make a secret of it. Either way, this may account for Mordred's bad attitude. Arthur acknowledges his son (after a Herod-like attempt on the infant Mordred - at Myrddyn’s suggestion, making the whole thing even more disillusioning). More family skeletons next week.