Saturday, June 13, 2020

Medieval Reads: Creating Stories with Mary Stewart and Geoffrey of Monmouth

From Medievalists:
The strange inventions of Geoffrey of Monmouth become very firmly attached to an early period in the popular imagination. The more complex historical understanding of Arthur and Merlin and where their stories grew and how they merged gets lost in the transition. I can’t count the number of arguments I’ve had with readers who are certain that Arthur was the Last of the Romans and that Excalibur was an ancient legend refurbished in the Middle Ages. The path these two brilliant writers have led many readers to pays homage to an emotional cultural validation that Stewart has created using the work of Geoffrey.

The emotional validation doesn’t, to be honest, bear much relationship to historical truth. Stewart’s historical truths are from her reinterpretation of an earlier period and she used Merlin as her conduit into that place and time. It’s an extraordinary creation, but very difficult to explain using the development of Arthurian stories as we know them. The best way, in fact, of explaining them is the same way Geoffrey of Monmouth’s peers saw Geoffrey’s work: as fiction. Good fiction. Outstanding fiction. (Read more.)

No comments: