Abstract

How England fits into world history and how the individual emphasis of chivalry fits with the needs of a nation are questions that become more urgent the more nearly Arthur becomes an epic hero. If, as Bakhtin suggests, epic is concerned with “ancestors and founders,”1 Britain has a problem: its ancestors are not its founders. Not only are its citizens from many races, but its social foundations are foreign; its (alleged) ancestors were Celtic, but its religion was Semitic, much of its law Roman or Anglo-Saxon, its literature based on Greek and Roman authors, its very language a mixture of Anglo-Saxon and French. An epic hero, therefore, must either be an ancestor championing values that have become barbarian and pagan, or a hero tinged with the foreign, championing the Christian, civilized values that are not ancestral.

Keywords

Migration Europe Assure Bors Defend 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Felicity Riddy “Contextualizing Le Morte Darthur: Empire and Civil War,” A Companion to Malory, ed. Elizabeth Archibald and A.S.G. Edwards (Cambridge, U.K.: D.S. Brewer, 1996), 55–95.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    The Brut, or, The Chronicles of England, ed. Friedrich WD. Brie, EETS o.s. 131 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1906), p. 220.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    The Orkneys were a Norwegian possession until 1468, when they were passed to James III of Scotland as part of marriage arrangements. Technically, therefore, the islands would have been Scottish by the time Malory finished the Morte Darthur. The language remained Scandinavian into the eighteenth century. Geoffrey of Monmouth made Gawain’s father Lot king of Norway. The proximity to Scotland, however, might define the politics in Le Morte Darthur. Aggravain and Mordred’s comrades are all “of Scotlonde, other ellis of sir Gawaynes kynne, other well-wyllers to hys brothir” (1164; XX.2), which suggests a geographical though not necessarily national affinity. See Hyonjin Kim, The Knight Without the Sword: A Social Landscape of Malorian Chivalry (Cambridge, U.K.: D.S. Brewer, 2000), pp. 85–90.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    For diverse examples, see Robert L. Kelly, “Malory’s Argument Against War With France: The Political Geography of France and the Anglo-French Alliance in the Morte Darthur,” The Social and Literary Contexts of Malory’s Morte Darthur, ed. D. Thomas Hanks, Jr. (Cambridge, U.K.: D.S. Brewer, 2000), pp. 111–33; Riddy, “Contextualizing Le Morte Darthur: Empire and Civil War”;Google Scholar
  5. Eugène Vinaver and P.J.C Field, The Works of Sir Thomas Malory, 3rd ed., 3 v. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 1367–68.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Fabienne L. Michelet, “East and West in Malory’s Roman War: The Implications of Arthur’s Travels on the Continent,” Multilingua: Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication 18.2–3 (1999): 209–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 11.
    Catherine Batt, Malory’s Morte Darthur: Remaking Arthurian Tradition (Palgrave, 2002), pp. 74–78.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    Bert Dillon, “Formal and Informal Pronouns of Address in Malory’s Le Morte Darthur,” Annuale Mediaevale 10 (1969): 94–103.Google Scholar
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    Mary E. Dichmann, “The Tale of King Arthur and the Emperor Lucius,” Malory’s Originality: A Critical Study of Le Morte Darthur, ed. R.M. Lumiansky (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1964), p. 84.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    Laurie Finke and Martin Shichtman, King Arthur and the Myth of History (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2004), pp. 159–85.Google Scholar
  11. 18.
    Marc Ricciardi, “‘Se What I Shall Do as for my Trew Parte’: Fellowship and Fortitude in Malory’s Noble Tale of King Arthur and the Emperor Lucius,” Arthuriana 11.2 (Summer 2001): 10–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 24.
    This may simply be a comment on the various economic forms of bad lordship, with the women forced to stand in for most of the civil society that is unrepresented in Malory. It could also mark a criticism of marriage as primarily a matter of economic concern—Igrayne marries Uther is a political match that could be seen as reducing her to simply an economic commodity, a bearer of property, much as the ladies in the castle are reduced to economic commodities, producers of cloth. While the economic aspects of marriage are important in romance in general and Malory in particular, Launcelot is a reminder that it should not be the only concern. See P.J.C. Field, The Works of Sir Thomas Malory, 3rd ed., 3 v. (Oxford England, N.Y.: Clarendon Press. Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 1422–23. For further discussion on economics and marriage, see Kim, The Knight Without the Sword: A Social Landscape of Malorian Chivalry, pp. 19–54;Google Scholar
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  15. 26.
    Larry D. Benson, Malory’s Morte Darthur (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1976), pp. 81–82.Google Scholar
  16. 27.
    Cf. Angela Gibson, “Malory’s Reformulation of Shame,” Arthuriana 11.4 (2001): 64–76;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  18. 28.
    R.M. Lumiansky, “Prelude to Adultery,” Malory’s Originality: A Critical Study of Le Morte Darthur, ed. R.M. Lumiansky (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1964), pp. 91–98. For a contrary view, seeGoogle Scholar
  19. David R. Miller, “A Noble Tale of Sir Launcelot du Lake Reconsidered,” Quondam et Futurus 2.3 (1992): 25–43.Google Scholar

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© Kenneth Hodges 2005

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  • Kenneth Hodges

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