I love the Arthurian legend

Mixed media painting of Celtic woman

“Ganieda” inspired by Annie Hamman, Life Book 2017, lesson 13

The prompt for day fifteen of the Artfully Wild Blog Along is to share something about myself that is not widely known. For most of my adult life, I have been captivated by the Arthurian legend. 

During my early teaching career, I was a certified exceptional children’s teacher. However, my undergraduate degree was in secondary English, so to earn extra money in the summers, I taught sophomore English in summer school, which lasted six weeks. Before NC changed the tenth grade curriculum to world literature, it was a survey literature curriculum and included selections from the Arthurian legend by Malory, Tennyson, and T. H. White and also had in the textbook the short novel by Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. 

I also showed clips from a half dozen or more films of the story, including Knights of the Round Table, The Sword and the Stone, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Excalibur, Camelot, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and an outstanding British film with very authentic costuming called The Legend Of King Arthur, which I found today on YouTube, although the quality is very poorI fell in love with this ancient story, which has been told and retold over so many centuries in so many variations.

I probably own close to two hundred books based on the legend. Most are novels, but some are history or literary criticism, and there are quite a few that relate to the story and its offshoot, the legend of the Holy Grail, as a path to enlightenment. Both stories are examples of the hero’s journey and are metaphors for the unfolding and development of the Soul as it gains knowledge/wisdom. There are even magical societies with rituals based on one or the other of the legends. The troubadours of the Middle Ages kept the stories alive throughout Europe, and even in countries far removed from Britain, there are versions. The Church might have liked to squelch the legends as too pagan or too gnostic, but it contented itself with Christianizing the primary elements.

If there was a real King Arthur, he probably was a Celtic warlord, perhaps with Roman ancestors, living on the western coast of Britain during the time the Angles and Saxons were settling the east coast. Roman influence still existed, but Roman soldiers had gone back across the channel to defend the continent against their own Germanic invasions. The best modern retellings, in my opinion, are set in this period of the late Roman/Dark Ages rather than the later Middle Ages when the stories became popular in the French court. 

I could go on and on about aspects of the legend. That I have this obsession and have read so very many books of all different types about the legend is something very few people know about me, and even fewer are interested in learning. Indeed, I miss having a classroom full of sixteen year-olds who are, so to speak, a captive audience. 

My favorite retellings of the legend are Marion Zimmerman Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, Mary Stewart’s four-book Arthurian Saga, and Stephan Lawhead’s six-book Pendragon Cycle (I especially like the first book set in Atlantis). If you want a good story, give them a try or watch one of the many movies. There are several newer ones since my teaching days.

14 thoughts on “I love the Arthurian legend

  1. taylordenise737 says:

    Oh my goodness!!! I love the Arthurian legends myself! It has been a long time since I have indulged myself being so caught up in other readings! I read the Mists of Avalon. I am sure I still have them in the midst of all my other books. Now you have stirred me up and I must go read them again. Either find them or get them from the library!!! Thanks for a good blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzanne H. Eller says:

      I’m so glad I’ve inspired you. Go to amazon.com and search Arthurian legend. You’ll get some great suggestions and can read reviews before you hit the library so you find the type literature that appeals to you. 😇

      Like

  2. TheForgottenMuse says:

    I became captivated by the tale of Arthur when Excalibur came out in the 80s. Since then, I have watched a number of movies about Arthur. I’ve watched the series Merlin, still have to finish season 5 though. I absolutely love the movie Mists of Avalon. I do have the book, but never finished reading it. I am missing one from the series and would like to read them in timeline order, if possible. I love reading about Avalon, Morgaine, and the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzanne H. Eller says:

      I watched all the Merlins, too. I actually like some of the retellings, but I hate that kids might think that is the real legend. Of course, Morgaine is not the heroine usually either. Persia Worley has a pretty good Guinevere series; its on the romance side but good.

      Like

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