The Reclamation of a Queen: Guinevere in Modern Fantasy

The Reclamation of a Queen: Guinevere in Modern Fantasy

The Reclamation of a Queen: Guinevere in Modern Fantasy

The Reclamation of a Queen: Guinevere in Modern Fantasy

Synopsis

The evolution of the portrayal of Queen Guinevere from the largely negative image beginning in the Middle Ages to the revisionist treatments of modern fantasy writers is studied from a Jungian-feminist perspective. Using a revised quaternity of feminine archetypes, Gordon-Wise demonstrates how Guinevere embodied negative aspects of the archetypes of Mother, Maiden, Wise Woman, and Warrior and how speculative theories of primitive goddess worship have been used by modern fantasy writers to create a Guinevere that reflects ongoing feminist concerns.

Excerpt

Much of modern Arthurian fantasy, and I consider all novels dealing with Arthurian material whether historically oriented or not as some species of fantasy, have created a Guinevere endowed with attributes resonant of the ancient Celtic goddesses. Primary among those qualities are fertility, sovereignty, courage, autonomy, and initiative: those traits most lacking in the Guinevere of traditional Arthurian mythos. and primary among recent revisionist treatments of Guinevere and the Arthurian legend are those novels by Parke Godwin, Sharan Newman, Persia Woolley, and Gillian Bradshaw.

Parke godwin

In his novel Beloved Exile (1984), sequel to Firelord (1980), Parke Godwin undertakes a major emendation in the character of Guinevere. Firelord is narrated in the first person by Arthur as he lies mortally wounded after the Battle of Camlann; indeed, Arthur the king is the major figure in this novel, but it is here also that Godwin introduces the figure of Guinevere. Beloved Exile, on the other hand, features Guinevere as the central consciousness; and like other modern fantasy writers working with the Arthurian material, Godwin immediately distances his queen from her traditional responsibility for the destruction of Camelot. the novel opens with the queen's reflection on the past summer which had marked the end of her rebellion against Arthur and her restoration as queen. From there Godwin follows the fortunes of Arthur's queen as she is widowed, enslaved by Saxons, eventually . . .

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