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____________________