The legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table permeate our culture: we find them in vels, movie parodies, and even the American government. Yet beneath and before it all lies a deep literary tradition that has influenced history, art, and culture over the centuries. Examining the legend at its very source, An Introduction to British Arthurian Narrative covers over 400 years and discusses a broad range of romances, histories, and parodies written about King Arthur in Britain during the medieval period. The modern Anglo-American version of the Arthurian tale stems from Sir Thomas Malory's fifteenth-century compendium Le Morte D'Arthur, which was written at the end of the tale's first period of widespread popularity, which began in the early twelfth century. Susan Aronstein demonstrates that, as Arthur's transformation from a leader of battles in early histories, to a powerful chieftain in Welsh tales, and, finally, into England's once and future king, at every point, these tales reflected the ongoing contest for sovereignty over the island of Britain-and the very definition of British.
Susan Aronstein, professor of English at the University of Wyoming, USA is the author of Hollywood Knights: Arthurian Cinema and the Politics of Nostalgia as well as numerous articles on medieval and modern Arthurian narratives.
University Press of Florida
Date of Publication
New Perspectives on Medieval Literature: Authors and Traditions