Friday, February 9, 2018

When Knights Were Bold

To my gratified surprise I've been making good progress on Le Morte D'Arthur and should be able to put Sir T. Malory to rest over the weekend. Now on Book XIX and the last three books are fairly short. I've definitely enjoyed Volume 2 in the Penguin edition a good deal more than the first volume, largely due to the distinctly allegorical turn taken by Malory once the saga of Sir Tristram was done with. It isn't great allegory, being of the generally obvious Christian variety (we're not talking the subtlety of Dante Alighieri by some distance) but it's enjoyable in its way and makes a welcome change from the tiresome, pointlessly violent jousting. In fact, the violence gets somewhat more interesting in places with a sense of real pain and oddity, as when Sir Launcelot gets what sounds like a genuinely unpleasant injury in one of his buttocks in Book XVIII.

I must admit, though, I still can't find anything of genuine literary value in all this. I keep thinking how much more I'd rather be reading Chaucer, and I'm not necessarily talking about the obviously brilliant Chaucer of the Tales, but just his early stuff. I must have a look at least a couple of academic essays on Sir T. once I'm done and see whether there's something here I'm failing to respond to. Always good to try and keep an open mind even when the mind wants to tightly close itself.

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