Introduction: Medieval by a Month

  • Kenneth Hodges
Part of the Studies in Arthurian and Courtly Cultures book series (SACC)


Sir Thomas Malory hammered together many sources to forge his Morte Darthur, from English alliterative poetry to French romance, but he did not seamlessly integrate his material. Instead, he leaves the welds visible, revealing the diversity in his sources. C.S. Lewis damns the resulting style with faint praise:

Malory’s greatest original passages arise when he is most completely absorbed in the story and realizes the characters so fully that they begin to talk for him of their own accord; but they talk in a language he has largely learned from his sources. The very ease with which he wanders away from this style into that of some inferior source or into a language of his own … suggests that he hardly knows what he is doing …. He has no style of his own, no characteristic manner …. In a style or styles so varied, everywhere so indebted to others, and perhaps most original precisely where it is most indebted, one cannot hopefully seek l’homme même. Here also Malory vanishes into a mist.1


Round Table Modern Nation Ideological Center Literary Style Fundamental Ideology 
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    Although Edward IV and Henry VII both claimed to be descendants of Arthur, such claims were not central to their royal images: see Sydney Anglo, Images of Tudor Kingship (London: Seaby 1992), pp. 40–60.Google Scholar

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© Kenneth Hodges 2005

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  • Kenneth Hodges

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