By Siân Echard
This ebook takes a distinct examine the Latin Arthurian culture, putting authors similar to Geoffrey of Monmouth within the context of Latin histories, monastic chronicles, saints' lives, and different Latin prose Arthurian narratives. putting them opposed to a history of the Angevin courtroom of Henry II, the ebook introduces a brand new set of texts into the Arthurian canon and indicates the way to comprehend their position in that culture.
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Additional info for Arthurian Narrative in the Latin Tradition (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature)
70 Gerald and Map both produced collections which include a good deal of obviously fantastic narrative, in Gerald's accounts of the superstitions of the Celtic peoples he describes, and in Map's retellings of Celtic ghost- and fairy-stories. Discussions of the marvelous in the rising romance genre often trace this strain in the narrative to its Celtic roots, and there are some who argue that an interest in the fantastic is a peculiarly English phenomenon in this period. I move then to my last contextual thread, the place of Britain in the twelfth-century renaissance.
F o r White's discussion of the process b y which historical fact is turned into narrative, see his Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore, M d : Johns H o p k i n s , 1978); especially "Interpretation in H i s t o r y , " p p . 5 1 - 8 0 ; and " T h e Historical Text as Literary Artifact," p p . 8 1 - 1 0 0 . White, " T h e Historical Text," p . 9 1 . "21 Geoffrey is, I think, far less certain of the status of the past than many of his contemporaries, and consequently, the playfulness of the narrative space he creates gives way to a destruction of narrative and historical certainties which approaches the nihilistic.
The ancient book is, first of all, a legitimizing device, a way of giving the Historia authority as history. 11 The book also provides an explanation for the sudden influx of information in the Historia about a past which up until the appearance of that work had been described only fitfully. Geoffrey is careful, too, to insert this new information into the existing lacunae in insular history, making accommodation with existing authorities whenever their accounts 9 10 11 Clanchy points out that "throughout twelfth-century Europe charters and title-deeds were frequently forged by monks, the experts in writing"; From Memory to Written Record, p.