Academic journal article Arthuriana

A Moment in the Field: Voices from Arthurian Legend

Academic journal article Arthuriana

A Moment in the Field: Voices from Arthurian Legend

Article excerpt

MARGARET LLOYD, A Moment in the Field: Voices from Arthurian Legend. New Haven, Connecticut: Plinth Books, 2006. Pp. vii, 89. ISBN: 1-887628-08-8. $12. 1-887628-09-6. $24.

The aim of Margaret Lloyd's newest collection of poems, A Moment in the Field, is, in the author's own words, to 'focus largely on aspects of female experience that have often remained marginalized, hidden, or unnoticed altogether' (p. 83). While there is nothing particularly new about this approach to exploring or retelling the Arthurian legend, the extent to which Lloyd attempts to remain faithful to the works of Malory, Chrétien de Troyes, Geoffrey of Monmouth, and some early Welsh Arthurian sources does indeed distinguish her work from that of other influential feminist authors like Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Barbara Ferry Johnson, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Instead of reworking or modernizing the narratives of her source materials to create a new, feminine-centered adaptation of the conventional Arthurian story, Lloyd chooses to explore the emotional and psychological states of both female and male characters within the context of their established roles in several medieval texts.

Reminiscent of Tennyson's original organization of the Idylls, Lloyd names each of her seven sections after the prominent female of the narrative being retold: Igraine, Isolde, Morgan, Elaine of Astolat, Nineve, Elaine of Corbenic, and Guinevere. All but one of these sections contains a sequence of poems, each relaying a different reaction to a significant event or series of events in that specific character's development. The women that emerge are powerfully aware of the complex and frequently problematic nature of their desires, making them compelling examples of the limitations of both the modern obsession with consciousness and the medieval institution of chivalry-even in an idealized form. …

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