What do I think when I hear “Arthurian?” Round table, witchcraft, sword in stone, adultery, knights, Camelot. Sometimes I think of Monty Python, or the Disney cartoon, or Julia Ormond and Sean Connery. I feel relatively familiar with the subject, but there is always an element of confusion that goes along with these thoughts. I know the basic characters: Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, Lancelot, Morgan le Fay. But there are always those more obscure individuals that pop up every so often that throw the standard plot into chaos: Elaine, Morgause, Igraine, Pellinore, Isolde, Mordred. Where exactly do they fit? What exactly happens in these legends that have been added to, embellished, and passed down through centuries upon centuries?
These are questions that led to me choose this topic for a research project. I realize that some of these questions may not have answers. That’s the problem with legends: there is no one right answer. But that is also the intriguing thing about legends. I want to explore all the different possibilities of these stories and how they actually relate to real events from history.
Examining these legends should also give me a good amount of insight into British culture and tradition. These legends played a large role in and continue to contribute to British literature, art, and film. Being able to take all of this in together will not just be exceedingly interesting, but also enlightening.
Lancelot and Guinevere by Herbert James Draper. Did I mention there is bucketloads of beautiful Arthurian artwork out there, especially from my personal favorite, John William Waterhouse. And Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I will definitely be having multiple posts to come with some of their lovely art.