English LiteratureArnold, Matthew. The Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold. eds. C.B. Tinker and H.F. Lowry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960.
Arthour and Merlin. ed. by Eugen Kolbing. Heilbronn: Henniger, 1890.
| Arnold wrote the first modern version of the Tristan tale, Tristram and Iseult mainly inresponse to his personal disapproval of Tennyson's adaption of the legend in The Idyll's ofthe King.|
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. ed. by F.N. Robinson. 2nd edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1957.
| Perhaps the earliest English verse romance that deals with the origins of Merlin and hisservice to the young King Arthur.|
Geoffrey of Monmouth. History of the Kings of Britain. trans. by Lewis Thorpe. London: Penguin, 1966.
| The Wife of Bath's Tale, a story from the Canterbury Tales, tells the story of an Arthurianknight and the Loathsome Lady. This is the story that later cast Sir Gawain in the knightlyrole and Dame Ragnell as the Loathsome Lady.|
Layamon. Brut. eds. by G.L. Brook and R.F. Leslie. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963, 1978.
| Geoffrey is credited with bringing the Arthurian legend out of the darkness of the Celticworld and into the light of Romance. He wrote his Latin "pseudo-history" in the twelfthcentury, and it is from his work that the French romance writers developed their own versionsof the Arthurian legend.|
Lovelich, Henry. The History of the Holy Grail. ed. Frederick J. Furnivall. 4 vols. London: Trubner, 1874, 1875, 1877, 1878.
| Essentially a Middle English adaption of Wace's Roman de Brut, this verse tale is moreheroic than its French counterpart. Layamon seems to be harking back to the pre-Hastingsdays of Britain.|
---. Merlin. ed. Ernst A. Kock. 3 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1904, 1913, 1930.
Malory, Sir Thomas. The Works. ed. by Eugene Vinaver; rev. by P.J.C. Field. 3 vols. 3rd edition. Oxford: Clarendon, 1990.
| Fifteenth century translations of the Vulgate Cycle tales of the Holy Grail. Here Joseph ofArimathea is buried at Glastonbury and both Arthur and Merlin are descendants of the Grailfamily.|
---. Caxton's Malory: A New Edition of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur. ed. by James W. Spisack. 2 vols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. eds. J.R.R. Tolkien and E.V. Gordon. 2nd edition edited by Norman Davis. Oxford: Clarendon, 1967.
| The definitive tales of the Arthurian legend, in which all the disparate elements, from Arthur'smiraculous birth, Merlin's death, love story of Tristan and Isuelt, the Grail Quest and Arthur'sbetrayal and death all come together for the first time. The tales were originally published inthe author's lifetime on England's first printing press. This is what is now commonly referredto as the "Caxton" edition. Eugene Vinaver discovered another manuscript, the Winchester,of the tales in the 1930's and used this as a basis for his edition.|
Spenser, Edmund. "The Faerie Queene." In Poetical Works. eds. J.C. Smith and E. de Sellincourt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1912.
| This Middle English verse romance tells the definitive story of Arthur's second most famousknight: Gawain must meet a number of tests in which he learns the meaning of honor.|
Stewart, Mary. The Crystal Cave. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1970.
| This unfinished allegorical poem has Arthur as its hero. This would be the poem's soleconnection to the Arthurian legend, as it makes little use of the traditional themes.|
---. The Hollow Hills. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1973.
---. The Last Enchantment. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1979.
---. The Wicked Day. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1984.
Tennyson, Alfred Lord. Idylls of the King. ed. by J.M. Gray. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983.
| The first three of these novels, commonly referred to as the Merlin Trilogy, has the magiciantell his story from the Crystal Cave of his youth and final imprisonment. The story of the fallof Arthur's kingdom is told by Mordred in the final novel. The author has been highlyinfluential in the fantasy novels of the 1980's and 1990's due to her accurate picture of DarkAge Britain.|
Twain, Mark. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. New York: Webster, 1889.
| Tennyson has been called the "father" of the Victorian Arthurian Renaissance. He set downmany poems dealing with the various traditional themes, as well as studies in characters("Guinevere," "Elaine"). He completed his series with a poem on the Grail and the death ofKing Arthur. Tennyson's influence on the Victorian era is incomparable.|
White, T.H. The Once and Future King. London: Collins, 1958.
| Most famous for the numerous film adaptions of it, this novel is heavily, and typically forTwain, satiric. It does hold, however, a certain sense of wonder and admiration towards theromantic world that the legend tends to evoke.|
---. The Book of Merlyn. ed. Sylvia Townsend Warner. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977.
| This wonderful series (The Once and Future King comprises of The Sword in the Stone, TheQueen of Air and Darkness, The Ill-Made Knight, and The Candle in the Wind) begins in achild-like, humorous fantasy, but descends to dark satire as Arthur's kingdom falls apart. TheBook of Merlyn was intended to wrap the series up, but was not published until after theauthor's death.|
© 1996 John J. Doherty
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 07, 1996
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