Sir Thomas Malory: The Critical Heritage

By Marylyn Parins | Go to book overview

42.

Andrew Lang

1891

Andrew Lang (1844-1912), scholar, historian, folklorist, and versatile essayist, did perhaps his most important work on Greek literature; he collaborated on translations of the Odyssey and the Iliad and wrote three important books on Homer, arguing for unity. Like other classicists, he compares Malory and Homer and finds many similarities; although Malory’s work seems ‘structureless’, it is nevertheless ‘strong on the side of goodness’. In the essay below, Lang also discusses nineteenth-century adaptations of Malory and finds that neither Tennyson nor Swinburne has done him justice.

The essay was published as a preface to Sommer’s volume III (London: David Nutt, 1891), pp. xiii-xxv.

The learning about Malory has been so fully dealt with in this edition by an expert, that the comments of one who merely reads Malory for enjoyment may be confined to the enjoyable elements in his work. His, as Mr. Furnivall remarks, ‘is a most pleasant jumble and summary of the legends about Arthur.’ The knight was no great clerk in Celtic mythology, and perhaps no very discriminate judge of what was best to choose, what best to omit, in his ‘French books.’ He was content to tell of ‘noble and renowned acts of humanity, gentleness, and chivalry. For herein may be seen noble chivalry, courtesy, humanity, friendliness,

-292-

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Sir Thomas Malory: The Critical Heritage
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Editor’s Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Caxton’s Preface 47
  • 2 - Wynkyn de Worde Interpolation 51
  • 3 - Tudor Historians on Malory 52
  • 4 - Renaissance Views 56
  • 5 - Two Seventeenth-Century Comments 61
  • 6 - Biographia Britannica 64
  • 7 - Samuel Johnson 66
  • 10 - Early Nineteenth-Century Scholars and Bibliographers 81
  • 13 - Robert Southey 95
  • 17 - Unsigned Review of Wright’s Edition, Christian Examiner 114
  • 18 - David Masson 117
  • 19 - Unsigned Review of Wright’s Edition, Blackwood’s Magazine 120
  • 21 - James T. Knowles 152
  • 24 - Herbert Coleridge 157
  • 25 - F.J. Furnivall 165
  • 26 - Samuel Cheetham 170
  • 27 - Edward Conybeare 173
  • 28 - Edward Strachey 175
  • 30 - A.C. Swinburne and R.H. Hutton 189
  • 32 - Harriet W. Preston 202
  • 34 - George W. Cox 211
  • 37 - Brief References 233
  • 38 - Edward R. Russell 240
  • 39 - Frederick Ryland 252
  • 42 - Andrew Lang 292
  • 43 - Reviews of Sommer’s Edition of Malory 303
  • 44 - ‘An Arthurian Journey’, Unsigned Essay, Atlantic Monthly 314
  • 46 - Other Nineteenth-Century Editors after Sommer 329
  • 48 - Mungo Maccallum 347
  • 50 - G.H. Maynadier 379
  • Index 403
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