Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Camelot and environs

Beginning with Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1136, stories featuring King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Gawain, Merlin, Mordred, Morgan le Fay et al. have been brought to life by some of the world's most gifted writers and artists. At left is a scene depicting King Arthur's Coronation, from a 13th-century manuscript in the British Museum.
In 1892, London publisher J. M. Dent produced an luxury edition of Le Morte d’Arthur illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley. The art nouveau cover (above) is so beautiful it almost makes me swoon. A first edition (the lighter color) is going for about $4,000 on ebay. Below are several plates from the  book.
Arthur Rackham illustrated another famous version in 1917: Alfred Pollard's The Romance of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table. The caption for the image below reads "How at the Castle of Corbin a Maiden Bare in the Sangreal and Foretold the Achievements of Galahad."
Among American writers, both Steinbeck (The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights) and Mark Twain (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court) had a go at building on the Arthurian mythology, whereas the classic British treatment is T. H. White's The Once and Future King. Focusing on the female characters are Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, and Vera Chapman's The Three Damosels.
For some enjoyable contemporary riffs on the Round Table and its milieu, we recommend two young adult series by Gerald Morris: Knights Tales (The Adventures of Sir Givret the Short; The Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great) and Squires Tales (The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf; The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady).
Any opinions/recommendations for our readers?

1 comment:

  1. I fell in love with the Arthurian legend my senior year of high school. In my English class we watched the film Excalibur, read Le Morte D'Arthur then we watched The Natural - yes the baseball movie. There were many comparisons between The Natural and King Arthur.

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