Arthurian Propaganda: Le Morte Darthur as an Historical Ideal of Life

Arthurian Propaganda: Le Morte Darthur as an Historical Ideal of Life

Arthurian Propaganda: Le Morte Darthur as an Historical Ideal of Life

Arthurian Propaganda: Le Morte Darthur as an Historical Ideal of Life

Synopsis

This study rejects the notion that Arthurian society actually presented a would-be ideal. In its place, the author offers a new and compelling way to read Malory by examining the underlying anarchic and self-destructive aspects of Round Table society. Included is a unique and much-needed annotated bibliography of significant Malory scholarship.

Originally published in 1971.

Excerpt

To preface this study with a succinct statement of its thesis would be somewhat misleading. The argument as it emerges in Chapters 2, 3, and 4 is accompanied by hesitations and qualifications even in its final stages. What I have discovered about the nature of the Arthurian story does not admit of conclusive proof despite the amount of textual evidence which can be brought to bear on the problem. What it does offer instead is, I think, a new and compelling way of reading Le Morte Darthur as well as other Arthurian pieces; but perhaps this kind of proof is conclusive enough. In lieu of restating the thesis which arises out of my reading of Arthurian legends and Malory in particular, I shall simply point to the problems raised here and indicate the general shape of the conclusions reached.

If we take the word propaganda in its broadest sense, much of Arthurian literature might be said to be a kind of social propaganda. But by the time we reach Malory's version, the direction and nature of the propaganda have diverged so . . .

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