Reinventing King Arthur: The Arthurian Legends in Victorian Cultureby Inga Bryden
Pub. Date: 04/01/2005
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
In her systematic reassessment of the remaking of the Arthurian past in nineteenth-century British fiction and non-fiction, Inga Bryden examines the Victorian Arthurian revival as a cultural phenomenon, offering insights into the relationship between social, cultural, religious, and ethnographic debates of the period and a wide range of texts. Throughout, she adopts an intertextual and historical perspective, informed by poststructuralist thinking, to reveal nineteenth-century attitudes towards the past. Starting with a review of the historical evidence available to Victorian writers and an examination of how historians of the time represented Arthur, the author connects Victorian accounts of Arthur's quest to contemporary scientific and historical searches for origins and knowledge, and to his appropriation by competing religious movements. She shows how writers explored the dynamics of heroism by recruiting Arthur and his knights to define codes of chivalric service, and to personify the psychological complexities of love. Finally, the legend of his death and transportation to Avalon is deconstructed and placed in the context of cultural attitudes towards commemorating the dead and theological debates about the afterlife. Inga Bryden engages not only with well-known Arthurian texts by Tennyson, Swinburne, Morris and Rossetti, but with lesser-known works by Bulwer-Lytton, Robert Stephen Hawker, Sebastian Evans, Diana Maria Mulock, Christiana Douglas and Joseph Shorthouse.
Table of ContentsContents: Preface; Introduction; 19th-century Arthurians and the Mythical Inheritance; Historians and historicism; Ethnology and the Search for Origins; The Holy Grail; Victorian Heroism and the King Remodelled; Arthurian Lovers: Psychology, Purity and Adultery; Arthur's death; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
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