Conclusion

There came a bark that, blowing forward, bore
King Arthur, like a modern gentleman.

TENNYSON, The Morte d'Arthur.

THE discussion of Malory's work as set forth in the foregoing chapters resolves itself into two main problems: that of Malory's literary character and that of his contribution to Arthurian romance.

On the first it would be perilous to generalize. Malory's ideas, methods, and general outlook cannot be expressed in a few words, and the preceding survey would gain little from a summary. One thing, however, appears certain, and follows naturally from all that has been said before: Malory is a modern, both in his sympathies and in his idiosyncrasies. He shares the moderns' dislike of shapeless stories of adventure, their interpretation of chivalry, and their misunderstanding of the medieval romantic spirit. For the medieval courtly idealism he attempts to substitute the philosophy of a practical and righteous fifteenth-century gentleman; and where the French romantic writers seek to set forth an ideal remote from reality he sees but a moral doctrine to be followed by all those who desire honour and 'renommée' in this world.1

His contribution is easier to summarize, but it leaves an impression as surprising as that left by his personality. He added little--much less than critics have hitherto believed. By condensing his sources, he occasionally achieved

____________________
1
This doctrine is suited to the moral and practical temper of Malory's age, just as much as Tennyson's didactic purpose is suited to the moral and sentimental temper of the Victorian era. The only real difference is that Tennyson is able to carry out his design, while Malory is 'a moral child without the craft to rule' and only succeeds in indicating his intentions. It would have surprised and grieved him to have learnt that his book was regarded by Ascham and Tennyson as a glorification of 'open manslaughter' and 'guilty love'.

-109-

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Malory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Illustrations x
  • Chapter One - Sir Thomas Malory and His Printer 1
  • Chapter Two - the Genesis of Arthurian Romance 14
  • Chapter Three - Narrative Technique 29
  • Chapter Four - Romance and Realism 43
  • Chapter Five - the Genius of Chivalry 55
  • Chapter Six - Camelot and Corbenic 70
  • Chapter Seven - the New Arthuriad 85
  • Chapter Eight Translation and Style 100
  • Conclusion 109
  • Appendix One Materials for Malory's Biography 115
  • Appendix Two the Sources of the Mort Darthur 128
  • Appendix Three 155
  • Bibliography 189
  • Index 199
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