The Arthurian Legend in the Literatures of the Spanish Peninsula

By William J. Entwistle | Go to book overview

V
THE ARTHURIAN NOVELS IN CATALONIA

IN respect of the introduction and diffusion of the matière de Bretagne the county of Barcelona and the kingdoms of Valencia and the Baleares appear to have followed an impulse different to that of the central and western portions of the Iberian Peninsula. Here the novels were known earlier and translated later than elsewhere; here they derive from the court of Pedro IV. ( 1336-87); elsewhere from that of Alfonso X. ( 1252-84). Despite many moments of approximation, consequent on the dictation of their respective originals, there is no demonstrable relationship between the Catalan and Castilian-Portuguese cycles. For these circumstances there is no need to allege any ethnic dislike among the Catalans for the fancies of chivalry or love: we know not what we are, and our race is what we deem it. To describe the temper of a nation in a formula has tempted many a critic since Juvenal and Tacitus, but these definitions are honeycombed with exceptions and have little utility as practical guides. Whatever element of Celtic mythology or of irrationality may have been found in its distant origins, the Arthurian Legend approached Catalan literature, even as it entered the Castilian and Portuguese, only when the process of Gallicisation was complete, and when the new inspiration had become the code of European society.

-76-

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