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1 CHIVALRIC AND GAELIC PRECURSOR TEXTS AS C OMMENTARY IN THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING By EMERSON STORM FILLMAN RICHARDS A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 Emerson Storm Fillman Richards
3 To Gainesville, Mordred, Aiden McInnerny, Chaucer, the Space Needl e, Dante, T.H. & T.H. But not T.H.
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The Once and Future King found myself writing a thesis about The Once and Future King legend, and his Mordred, impacted me so deeply. I would probably not be a medievalist were it not for T.H.White I simply would not have known to be. I am glad to have had the opportunity to work with Professors Terry Harpold and William Calin. These men have supported my scholarly endeavors and labored with me to craft this thesis and my research process. Though Terry is not a medievalist, he took me and my least). I am sorry it took me so long to find him, but I am so glad that I did. Both of these men have left indelible marks on me as a scholar and a person years working with them. In 2011, Professor Michael Cramer asked if I had anythin g to contribute to a panel at the International Congress on Medieval Studies on the protean nature of chivalry. I said yes, and my thesis topic was born. Having presented this thesis as a conference paper, I should thank everyone who posed questions and in someway helped me mould this argument, most notably: Professor C.J. Jones (Notre Dame), Lucas Wood (University of Pennsylvania), Professor Steve Muhlberger (Nipissing University), and Sebastian Rider Bezerra (Yale University). Jacqueline Cox, of the Cam bridge University Libraries, was beyond kind when she in the registrar from the 1920 s, and his grades, he suddenly seemed so tangible and human an ex perience I had not yet felt as a scholar. Thanks to Professor R. Allen Shoaf and Dr. Judy Shoaf, who made time for me and helped me work through ideas in this thesis. It has always a pleasure to talk about Arthurian
5 matters with Judy Shoaf. Professor Shoa f inspires me to continue my medievalist training. One day, I want to speak about Dante or Shakespeare the way he does. To Matthieu Boyd, for reading this thesis, for telling me stories, for helping me to become a better scholar and for encouraging me to be that better scholar. To Julie LeBlanc, for joining me on this arduous journey of being a medievalist/celticist grad student. To Alex Flores for eating my food, being my best friend, and laboring to keep me sane. To Walton Wood for late night balcony cha ts, lemurs and labyrinths, and for making me happy when things were awful. And to Brad Johnson, my bosom friend, who above all supports me unequivocally and who has heard more about medieval literature than he ever signed on for in high school. The amount of thanks I want to give to each of these brilliant people is rivaled only by the amount of my love that they deserve. Finally, I thank Storm Richards and Jeanne Fillman Richards for the time, the money and the love, support and food; I will return the lo ve, I will return the food, but not the money.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 7 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 10 2 SEEKING LANCELOT ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 23 3 GAELI CONCERNS ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 35 4 LANCELOT, LORD TENNYSON & DUTY AS FATAL WEAKNESS, OR FINDING THAT WHICH CANNOT BE FOUND, A CONCLUSION ................................ ................. 53 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 60 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 63
7 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS C W T he Candle in the W ind BM T he Book of M e rl i n IM K T he I l l M ade Knight OFK T he On c e and Future K i ng QAD T he Qu ee n of Air and D a r k n e ss SS T he Swo r d in t he Stone Vin. Vina ve r edition of Malory W W T he W i t c h in t he W ood
8 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of M a ster of A r ts S EE K I NG TH A T W H I C H CA N N O T B E FOU N D : G A E L I C AND C H I V A L R I C TE X TS AS COMME N TARY I N T HE O NCE AND F UT URE KING By Emerson Storm Fillman Richards May 2013 Chair: Terry Harpold Major: English In the wake of his (now lost) thesis on the Arthurian materia l that is commonly called at Queens Colle ge, Cambridge, in the late 1920 s, Terrence Hanbury White was able to remark upon different representations of chivalry and courtliness in historical literatures. His tetralogy, The Once and Future King (1958), demonstrates his deep knowledge of the Arthurian tradition and related elements of medieval literature and culture. I propose that through the many versions of Arthurian legend figured in The Once and Future King in relation t o changes in social perceptions of chivalry as a code of courtly conduct and as a code of warfare huriad in The Once and Future King to comment on two pressing political (and personal) concerns of his contemporary England the imminence of World War II and the rise of Gaelic, particularly Irish, nationalism in the early twentieth century. I focus on two Lancelot related examples, and a pastiche of textual and cultural references, but a calculated selection of allusions meant to critique this and other conte mporary issues in a sophisticated way. My work will attempt to
9 Lewis. I will accomplish this work of criticism in four sections.
10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The On ce and Future King is the common title of the four books by T. H. White published in 1958. Three of the books had been published individually prior to 1958. Episodes from The Sword in the Stone (1938) were deleted for the 1958 publication. The most notable The Sword in the Stone The second book, The Queen of Air and Darkness originally published in 1939 as The Witch in the Wood underwent the most drastic changes of the tetralog y. After the 1958 edits of the second book, the number of pages was severely cut and many thematic elements were rent from the narrative, one being a more in mother and as a woman. Stylistic and superficial textual changes were made to the The Ill Made Knight but the book remained, for the most part, the same as the 1940 publication. The final book, The Candle in the Wind had not appeared in print before 1958. White intended that a fifth volume, The Book o f Merlyn should be published as a conclusion to The Once and Future King but it was rejected by the publisher. The Book of Merlyn was published posthumously after revision and reorganization. I will consider primarily the text of 1958 tetralogy compilati on, The Once and Future King When I refer to the individual books, it will be assumed that I am referring to the edited 1958 versions found within OFK unless otherwise noted. I will take in to account the texts and variations between the 1930 s versions a is a significant difference. For example, the variation between The Witch in the Wood and The Queen of Air and Darkness concerns, so I will draw heavily from The Witch in the Wood Though White considered The Book of Merlyn to be part of his series, I will not discuss it in detail, though the larger arc of my argument remains cognizant of it
11 and his increased understanding and rejection of war. White wrote The Book of Merlyn after he The Once and Future KIng as a tetralogy, I am aware that White technicall y meant for his series to be a pentology. Since the examples from which I draw occur in the second and third books, I focus on those two and incorporate material from the other three as it pertains to my main argument. When he began work on The Sword in t he Stone White wrote to his mentor, Leonard James Potts, on 14 January 1938, expressing confusion about whether he was writing a 1 Both versions of The Sword in the Stone featuring young Ar Merlyn transforms young Arthur into various animals from whom Arthur learns about different type s of government, such as fascism, monarchy and communism. To conclude his education, Merlyn transforms Arthur into a migratory goose, whose familial flock, without boundaries or personal property, seems to Arthur the most idyllic. In the final chapter of T he Candle in the Wind this ideal of borderlessness returns to Arthur as he critiques the failures of Camelot. To those without a background in medieval literature, the narrative of The Sword in the Stone, 1 University from 1926 8 as an Assistant Lecturer in the English Faculty and then from 1928 60 as a Lecturer in the English Faculty. He was a Fellow of Queens' College. It is the responsibility of the Colleges to organise small group teaching for their undergraduates and of the central University authorities to provide lectures and to set and mark examinations and award degrees
12 The Once and Future King t narrative matures as Arthur does; neither entity remains stagnan he considers the more mature theme s with which Arthur will have to cope; Worthington tone o f maturity between the 1939 version of The Witch in the Wood and the 1958 The Queen of Air and Darkness The Witch in the Wood shows progression in maturity from The Sword in the Stone but the presentation is less poignant than in the 1958 revision, The Q ueen of Air and Darkness necessarily. Impossible get on with teaching young idea sho [ WITW 25]). But most importantly, The Witch in the Wood has far less to do with Arthur himself than does The Queen of Air and Darkness. While The Queen of Air and Darkness remains largely thematically the same as The Wi tch in the Wood (adolescence and sexuality, the Orkney daughter), the events that compose the plot are almost entirely different. The Witch in the Wood centers around
13 seduce the married Sir Grummore and construct her various identities. White enumerates the (she had driven King Lot [her husband] to drink some time before); The Lonely Spirit, Voyaging through Strange Seas of Thought Alone; Martha (the one who had to do all the housework [ ) ]; Mary (the one who did not); A Wayward Soul, Impulsive and Unaccust omed to the World; The Female Sage; The Gay Spirit; The Idol of Society; The Outcast of Society; The Venus of Milo; WITW 107) including this lis t and the explanation of how her nature was almost entirely superficial, as if she were acting for an audience (which is detailed throughout the 1939 version). When White describes the tragedy of Mordred (as a character) in The Candle in the Wind he attri butes part of sister, Morgause, which occurs at the end of The Witch in t he Wood / The Queen of Air and Darkness (Worthington 98). Depictions of sexuality are more prominent in the second book(s), befitting a transition from childhood ( The Sword in the Stone ) to early adulthood and a shift to focus on Lancelot ( The Ill made Knigh t ). An early foray into sexuality occurs in allegory, when the Orkney brothers lead a 2 Elizabeth Brewer corroborates the reading ite in his final version 3 suggests by means of a subtle combination of dialogue and authorial comment the growing sexual awareness of the brothers, who are nevertheless not quite able to understand what is going (a virgin holding the horn of a unicorn), the experience is couched in double entendres WW 86]). This experience 2 Worthington also addresses the Orkney brothers, the unicorn and the virgin (Worthington 104). 3 This version, is of course, QAD the OFK version of WIW
14 concludes the innocence of th e four Orkney children. This experience is surrounded by 4 These awkward, half where she sleeps with her half 106). White concludes The Queen of Air and Darkness with a genealogical chart on whi ch a claims that: with the reasons why the young man came to grief at the end. I t is the tragedy, the Aristotelian and comprehensive tragedy, of sin coming home to roost. That is why when the time comes, that the king had slept with his own sister. He did not know he was doing so, and perhaps it may have been due to her, but in seems, in tragedy, that innocence is not enough. ( QAD 312) With this short discourse, he primes the reader to take a turn from talking animals and tutelage by saints and wizards to wards the darker themes of incest, adultery, aging and the Fall of Camelot. The two books after The Queen of Air and Darkness medieva l precursor text in the The Candle in the Wind tetralogy developed White included, and alluded to, his Malorian source more fai thfully, as well as sources which, as Malory constantly reiterates in his works, include much of the French tradition. Vulgate Cycle, the romances of Chrt ien de Troyes and Malory, the representation of the canon 4 In QAD
15 and its argument become increasingly nuanced as The Once and Future King pastiche is not a mere gathering of textual and cultural references, but a calculated selection of allusi ons and a modern critique of Arthurian chivalry. To demonstrate this, I will focus on late 12 th century Roman de Rou by Wace and the contemporary Yvain, ou le c hevalier au lion by Chrtien de Troyes, the early 13 th century La Qute du Saint Graal from the French Vulgate Cycle, of the Post Vulgate Cycle and the Sir Gawain The Tale of the Sankgreal Briefly Drawn out of French Which is A Tale Chronicled For One of the Truest and One of the Holiest That is in This World. 5 Following my analysis of Lancelot, I will turn to the Gaelic/English tensions manifested in WW and QAD Here, White juxtaposes the Gaelic ( Cirt An Mhen Oche and the Gaelic works. Having used the Orkneys to show that these appropriated lines are ubiquitous throughout The Once and Future King not merely a Lancelot centric a nomaly concerning chivalric codes, as evidenced in his use of citations from historically or thematically incongruent sources. I will argue that these lines are not merely inserted for aesthetics or convenience: rather, they serve as a subtle nod to more careful readers who may thus gain access emphasize medieval literature, such as T. H. White and his conte mporaries C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, a modern scholar can perhaps better understand how the chivalry and the Arthuriad 5 148 edition of Caxton (1935); Arthur Pendragon the Winchester MS, The Works of Thom as Malory
16 some) research of primary texts (as documented by letters to Potts), tracing certain cultural effective way of reading him than the use of other modern authors who may not have considered the ant ecedent texts. My critical models are drawn from source criticism and adaptation theory. These two (not Victorian precursor texts. I begin with a consideration o f source criticism. Much work has been source criticism dealing specifically with his corpus. So, I will use Tolkienian source criticism as d follow the methodology and criteria set out by Jason Fisher, Tom Shippey and E. L. Risden in Tolkien and the Study of his Sources Scholars question the whether it and sourc e, but to try to explain why section six, I will explore the cultural connection between C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and T. H.
17 fidelity to a document and the artis ts ideal of originality, are all alike absent from the minds of 36). derivative elements in the works of Tolkien and White, authors whos e subject matter was medieval or pseudo medieval, seem more in line with their motive and less as if the authors lacked originality. 6 revision in The Anxiety of Influence Tessera, ... ng the parent poem as to retain its terms but to mean them in another sense, as though the precursor has failed to go far enough. Daemonization ... The later poet opens himself to what he believes to be a power in the parent poem that does not belong to the parent proper, but to a range of being just beyond that precursor. He does this, in his poem, by stationing its relation to the parent poem as to generalize away the uniqueness of the earlier work. Askesis or a movement of self purgation which inten ds to attainment of a state of solitude...[the poet] yields up part of his own human and imaginative endowment, so as to separate himself from others, including his precursor... (14 16) tessera, daemonization and askesis The way in which the Arthurian legend has been transmitted since its inception lends itself easily to being 6 I do not wish to enter the fray over Tolkien and source criticism. I am not making a claim about Tolkien; rather, I am putting in to practice the theory of source criticism that focuses on Tolkien because it close ly resembles the work that I must to do with White.
18 categorized as tessera In most cases, each author adds or omits his or her own culturally or personally driven detail, shifting the emphasis of the revision from the source legend or legends. In this respect, the Arthurian legend is unstable rarely does a character retain fixed characteristic s or the narrative follow well rehearsed plots. 7 Though it originates in Wales, the Arthurian tradition does not belong to one nation or group. Arthurian references and cycles became native to countries across Europe in the Middle Ages, and across the worl d in modern times. If we consider the variations of the legend after the Vulgate Cycle, 8 in conjunction with Orestes BM xi) and the comparison of the legen d to an Aristotelian tragedy in QAD, 9 By defining the various archetypes of the Arthurian legend and adding to them, White submits his daemonizat ion White did not adhere to a strict representation of medieval Arthurian legend; he allowed his representations of characters and narratives to be influenced not only by precursor works but also by his idiom and psyche; as he observes of the Lancelot cha racter, his version of the knight reflects his own flaws (White qtd in Brewer 82, 83). particularly his mother. 10 Because of these additions to the precursor material, the narrative can 7 In a previous project, I have traced the mutations of the character Mordred from the first mention of him to the works of Malory. In doing so, I noticed how almost none of the cycles were static even t he most famous, such as the Grail Cycle and the Guinevere Lancelot plot. 8 The versions of Arthurian legend that manifest after the Vulgate Cycle contain most of the elements more commonly associated with the modern conception of the legend: Lancelot as incestuous birth of Mordred. 9 By this, White most likely refers to The Orestia not the play Orestes. 10 White admits this several times to Potts and refers to his revision of the Morgause character, which entails s everal about boiling black ca
19 also be placed in the category of askesis As Risden suggests, the critic benefits by understanding More than recognizing that there is influence from precursor texts, what makes source biographical criticism and philology to determine how other works have somehow directed the with source criticism, to While Tolkienian source criticism is ready made for delving into Medieval and mythological ation does not address medieval texts, his methodology and the consideration of what adaptation is can also be applied to medieval of medieval texts, and expl ains that what would be considered by modern authors to be plagiarism was common practice among medieval authors. Because of the recycling (and this term becomes complicated) of plots, characters and chunks of text, medieval literature is rife with adaptat [t]he relation between such second order creations and their source mater ials is not application of an interpretant. The hermeneutic relation can be seen not only as interpretive, fixing the form and meaning of the source materials, but as interrogative exposing the cultural and social conditions of those materials and of the translation or adaptation that has processed them. (Venuti 25) Anxiety of Influence order revision suggests that a daptations do not merely represent the Bloomian category of clinamen (fixative, corrective): by understanding the specific role of the adaptor, we may better understand the culture and social imagination in which the adaptation and adapter belong. White
20 d around the Arthuriad and chivalry by relating it to a contemporary audience and enhancing the understanding for those with a medievalist background. By examining ad exposing the cultural and social conditions Venuti argues that this mode of analysis is a relevant methodology for considering the culture of the adaptor as well as the culture of the adapted text in that interpretive, but potentially interrogative: the formal and thematic differences introduced by the translation or adaptation, th e move to a different language and culture or to a different cultural medium with different conditions of production, can invite a critical understanding of the prior materials as well as their originary or subsequent contexts, the linguistic patterns, cul tural traditions and social institutions in which they were positioned. (Venuti 38) The idea that White engages in a process of hermeneutical adaptation, attuned to his contemporary historical moment and the medieval culture of France and England as repre sented in their vernacular literatures, informs my argument as I consider from which texts, and for what is overdetermined by the cultural situation and historical moment in which the adaptation is We must remember that though Venuti considers filmic adaptation of literatures in his article, here, his general theory of adaptation remains authors adapting the literatures of their predecessors. Both artists are expected to produce more or less faithful adaptations of prior material, and to adapt that material to the specific medial
21 contexts and constraints of the new work; this is not considered plagiarism or intellectual theft. In fact, in some cases, the more faithfully reproduced the adaptat ion is, the more critical praise it receives. For a medieval example of this, consider the work of monastic scribes who were tasked with creating replicas of illuminated manuscripts; this was not considered a mindless task of copying (in the modern sense) but rather a high artistic endeavor. Although both translation and s of his sources. Each of the original texts reflects something about its own culture that is lost, or irrelevant, in the culture of its adaptation; however, for an artist like White, a student of previous cultures laboring to critique both the past and contemporary culture, the literary symbolism and cultural meaning invested in these pre existing works is not overlooked. White himself ( White qtd in Gallix 87). The Once and Future King can be enjoyed by a reader with no background in medieval studies; his or her interpretation may not be the same as that of a reader which the source text continues to accrue significance when it begins to circulate in its originary In order to discern what White intended to achieve with his adaptations, we must understand, as John Crane has not
22 allusions to, and quotations from, his Arthurian precursors to fit the needs of his narrative and comm entary. Since his version of the legend is also a multi layered response to subjects ranging from contemporary politics and governments, to Irish Catholicism and Irish nationalists, to medieval ideas of chivalry and courtly love, it served him to make mult i faceted allusions to precisely critique those subjects. References that seem at odds with the notional character of a in these cases was driven towards a s pecific narrative with specific undertones and subtexts.
23 CHAPTER 2 SEEKING LANCELOT The first Lancelot related example shows the depth of influence embedded in Arthurian his own time. The Ill Made Knight which references the French fort mains (316). White enters the 19 th century tradition of le mal anglais with the mismatched gender, la main being feminine, and the adjec tive fort referring to a masculine. Additionally, the multiple Old French definitions of main phrase. 1 Re directly and indirectly alludes to (at least) five medieval texts, Roman de R ou Yvain; ou le chevalier au lion La Qute du Saint Graal of the Vulgate Cycle, Gaivain of the Post The Tale of the Sankgreal Briefly Drawn out of French Which is A Tal e Chronicled For One of the Truest and One of the Holiest That is in This World. 2 hundred years ago and then describes a dream that Lancelot has after Arthur left. Lancelot and his brother, Ector 1 Le mal anglais can also be seen in the title bestowed upon the works of Malory. contains a mismatched gender between the article (masc. sing. or plural) and the noun (fem.). 2 Commonly the collective Arthurian works of Malory are known as ; however, this title technically only refers to the final book of the collection.
24 mad e to ride an ass instead of a horse, culminating in a scene at a Tantalus esque well a portent for the ultimate failure of Camelot and the chivalric Round Table. What concerns us a stereotype that can be found in at least three precursor texts, which White thus brings to the Lancelot, and though he will be conside remain plagued by self doubt and self explicit later, after he has slept with Elaine. He laments, he would let me work a miracle. Only virgins can work miracles. I wanted to be the best knight in the world. I was ugly and lonely. The people of your village said that I was the best knight in the world, and I did work my Miracle when I got you out of th IMK 376). which is the goal he sets when he is shown to have gotten out of his chair and on to the horse seeking that which he could not find during his chivalric training becomes analogous to the Graal /Grail, as well as chivalric adventure, and an otherworldly tale, which is unattainability made manifest, both undercut and enforced by the knigh important because they occur when Lancelot is first introduced, thereby establishing his character and ideals. That which cannot be found shifts from adventure and marvelous things (in Wace and Yvain ), to th La Qute the Post Vulgate and Malory ), to the unattainable notion of medieval chivalry and courtliness (in White). White almost certainly intended this line to iterate Malory, given the significance of other references credited to Malory throughout the quadrology. For example, he dedicates the 1938 version of The Sword in the Stone The Candle in the Wind with Arthur
25 instructing young Tom of Newbold Revel. 3 White wrote to Potts to ask, once wrote a thesis on the ? Naturally, I did not read Malory when writing the (White qtd in Warner 98). White is reported to have venerated Malory after that (Warner 100). it is important to acknowledge and consider Tolkien wanted scholars to be satisfied with the ox soup and not dig around for the bones. Source scholars must always be critical about deciding whether something is a source or not. The examples I will present, which were translated directly from five different but culturally related sources, are too similar how Whi By considering a brief survey of the scholarship of French and English, which informs the involved in informing his work. A History of Arthurian Scholarship edited by Norris Lacy, enumerates and explains various aspects of Arthurian scholarship from early sources to current ones, ranging from chapters on national literatures to international subjects (such as the question of an historical Arthur). T. H. White studied at a time during which English and (particularly) French Arthurian literature was advancing as a legitimate field of inquiry. To give a temporal frame of matricu 3 By inscribing the though fictional young Thomas Malory with this place of origin, this signifies t hat White Newbold Revell near Warwickshire), as opposed to Alfred T. Martin, who researched a Malory of Papworth St. Agnes in Huntingdonshire.
26 admitted to Queens' College... He was awarded a lower second class part in the examinations for [the English] tripos in 1927 and a first in the examinations for part II of the same tripos in 1929... from Cambridge for the academic year 1927 of gentlemen after which Old French literature moved from amateur status to being considered of scholarly worth. Equally important, around the same time as the canon ization of Old French literature, Morte volume Vulgate Cycle (published in 1909 through 1913) not only prov ided scholars with the complete Lancelot Graal Cycle (Busby & Taylor 96), and aided the understanding of this material by calling it a unified cycle the Vulgate Cycle we re non medieval Arthurian romance, its themes and characters, usually begin with consideration of disc Arthurian and medieval scholarship, White had access to materials that were unavailable to chester manuscript the earlier Arthurian literature out of which Malory had fashioned Le Morte Darthur nor in the Works
27 tempered broadsides he levels at en masse the influence of these previous versions and of the contemporary scholarship of Arthurian legend There is eviden for the Winchester MS and previous versions of the Arthur. First, Sprague does allow that that would assist in achieving his artistic purpose of characterization and motivation; they were seems to have worked from the Globe edition edited by Sir Edwa rd Strachey, which he heavily College MS was discovered was the only version known, and which is still the basis of the Dent Everyman edition of Caxton (1935); Arthur Pendragon on of the Winchester MS, The Works of Thomas Malory Oxford (Sprague 4 OFK ] is The Matter of Britain Look at this short
28 list my lad: Nennius, Geoffrey [assumedly of Mon mouth], Malory, Purcell, Hughes, (Milton), Tennyson, T. H. White. You could treble it, but I am mentioning the important he even From Ritual to Romance by Je sources which evidently helped to suggest the possibilities open to him at this stage in his epic. He refers to the two main strands of medieval French prose romance about Lancelot. One is the cour tly Lancelot and the other is the which is fundamentally anti chivalric and anti Queste that his sympathies lead by his marginalia cited in Sprague ). It appears that White had, at least, a passing interest in for his mentor) confirms that White had an interest in precursor texts, which was satiated. He writes: manuscripts [this was after the Winchester was discovered and made public ix 200). But in writing The Once and Future King White became both a critic and an artist. The academic culture Cambridge in the 1920s bristled with possibility for a young man who wanted to study medieval and Arthurian literature. Though Sprague takes the end of The Book of Merlyn to counter argument that White was somewhat knowledgeable of if not amiable about representations of Arthuriana, ranging from the Itali an, the Scots, the Germans (specifically Wolfram von Eschenbach) and a whole host of Arthurian critics ( BM 135). The final point of
29 to Potts in which he remark f his sources. It would be a major research undertaking in itself to trace the cultural significance and more philologically driven at this point. I will consider the philological similarities between Wace, Chrtien de Troyes, the Vulgate Cycle, and the works of Malory which are manifest in The Ill Made Knight I will not attempt at this point to describe how or why this line resonated from Wace through to Malory. Having established the cultural frame from which White worked, I can consider the ates. A chronological analysis begins with the twelfth century Norman poet, Wace, and his Roman de Rou donc Breton vont sovent fablant 4 5 He describes, with in the forest, the fountain of Berent on at espuisier/ E le perron desus moillier;/ por o soleient pluie aveir;/ Issi soleit jadis ploveir/ En la forest e envirun 6384, 122). 6 This, of co implementation of a magic stone, upon which Calogrenant and Yvain pour water to summon the Otherworld. Chrtien is not the only medieval author to borrow the scenario wherein there is a 4 Al 5 The modern spelling is Brocliande, which is the modern day Breton forest of Paimpont. 6 went to Berenton [the fountain] due to a great heat/ would draw up water in their hunting horns,/ and moisten the top of the stone/ because of this, it used to rain/ for this, often
30 fountain in the Brocliande tha magical qual La e tinc 6399, 122). 7 The narrator, here, enters an Otherworldly space, to seek ( querre ) marvels, but finds none. He is seeking that which cannot be found, and that quest made him a fool and made him recognize himself as such. Jean Frappier indentifie s this passage from Wace as a potential source for Yvain Brut (as well as the Historia regum brittaniae of Geoffrey of une allusion demi ddaigneuse 8 indicates that, more than Erec, more than Lancelot, more than Perceval (who honneur 9 (Frappier 38). 10 Yvain Calogrenant acts as the catalyst for the narrative by recounting his adventures at an Otherworldly sp narrates his encounter with a hideous peasant, who asks him what he is seeking. In response, uns chevaliers/ Qui quier che que trouver ne puis; Asss ai 7 Tra but I did not find./ Foolish, I returned, foolish, I went./ Foolish I went [and] foolish I returned/ I sought foolishness [foolish things], con 8 Breton story tellers (to which Wace contents himself with making a semi contemptuous allusion [to th e Breton 9 10
31 quis et riens ne truis Romanz 722. 365 6). 11 The adventure on which the peasant sends Calogrenant involves the knight pouring water on a stone, which causes a great storm and summons an Otherworldly knight who defeats Calogrenant and takes his horse. The philo logical Ensi alai, ensi reving;/ au revenir por fol me ting 9). 12 description with only a difference in verb tense and person number. Lancelot is seeking that which he shall not find; Calogrenant is seeking that which he cannot find And what Calogrenant aventures, pour esprouver/ Ma proeche et mon hardement 1). 13 It is important not necessarily for my argument at hand, but for the future examination of the medieval transmission of this line Yvain est situe en terre celtique (Frapp ier 40) 14 and that terre celtique is removed in the next iteration of the line. Now, we can turn to La Qute du Saint Graal of the later composed Vulgate Cycle. The link between the two texts is philologically, if not thematically, evident. Norris Lacy pro vides the composed the Lancelot Grail Cycle (also called the Vulgate Cycle, the Prose Lancelot or the Pseudo uthors of the Vulgate Cycle lui [Hector] A lons quierre ce que nos ne troverons ja 11 12 13 14
32 8). 15 What follows is a description of how Lancelot fell from his horse, was despoiled, and came 16 He tries to drink from it, but the water retreats fro retornoit la dom il est venuz 17 In this instance, that which will not be found is the Saint Graal Likewise, in the from the Post Vulgate Cycle, that which cannot be found is the grail. In the Post Vu lgate, Arthur is the central figure, as opposed to the Lancelot and Guinevere focus of the Vulgate Cycle (Lacy xi). Difficulty arises in working with the Post Vulgate have been lost; ot hers are known only in fragmentary form or through early translations ion from which I draw: Esta visam vio Galvam, mas Estor vio outra mui maravilhosa e dessemelhada desta, ca lhe semelhava que elle e seu ira o La[n]aroc deciam de hu cadeira e sobiam sobre dous cavallos grandes, e diziam hu -Vaamos buscar o q ue nom poderemos achar ja. E asi adarom per muitas jornadas, tanto, atee que Lanaroc caya do cavallo e derribava o hu hu o da rroupa e de quanto lhe achava. E depois sobia no asno e andava asi longo tempo ataa que chegava a h hi por bever, e hu queria bever, fgia lhe [a] agoa. E quando vi[a] que lhe fugia, tornava sse pera donde viera. 18 (Bogdanow 205 206) 15 ot du Lac, his brother, descended from a high chair and mounted on two big horses, and 16 17 18 for it seemed to him that he and his brother Lancelot came down off a single chair and got on two la rge horses. They his horse and a man knocked him down, then made him get on a donkey, stripping him of his clothes and everything he had. A fter he had got on the donkey, he rode for a long time, until he arrived at a spring, the most beautiful and desirable he had ever seen. He dismounted to drink from it, but when he tried to drink, the water receded from him. When he saw that it receded fro Vulgate Cycle.
33 This instance from the Pos t Vulgate Cycle actually reveals another precursor text. Songe is one of the fragments that is not available in the original Old French, so Bogdanow used the Portuguese fragment in her piecing together of the cycle. Thus, from the Old French to the Portuguese translators. In addition, in both the Old French Post Vulgate and the Portuguese (re)iteration, we see the same scenario wherein Lancelot falls from his horse and is made to ride a donkey. The symbolism of the chevalier who is deprived of his cheval and made to ride the inferior ne should not go unnoticed. Semiotic extensions of the key line associating it with the grail, the ass, and the spring 19 same Grail context from the Vulgate Cycle and the same narrative framework for the line spoken seke that we shall nat fyn The Once and Future King would seem like a casual observation about the trials of chivalry, with no notable significance. However, to a medievalist aware of the intertexts involved in this case, the version of Lancelot and his quest. The use of the borrowed line can be read in three registers. 19 A further remark on the cultural significance of the relations of these medieval precursor texts: f rom Wace to Malory, in each of the five (or six) precursor texts that I have presented, besides the line about seeking that which cannot be found, the other resonant trope is the spring that Wace originally describes in the Broceliande forest. Further rese arch and literary and cultural analysis of the relationship of these texts might show how this spring, deriving from the Celtic Otherworldly forest, came to be closely associated with the setting of the Grail.
34 First, the statement is, frankly, opaque Lancelot is seeking that which cannot be found. He is a knight. Knights go on quests, but how the quest might end seems not to be at stak e. The second register depends on our recognition that this line is lifted from a medieval text telling the story of a very different knight. The intertextuality in this case gives Lancelot a sort of medieval wrapping, making him seem as if he is a more au thentic representation of chivalry, because he speaks with the voice of an historical representation of knighthood. As I will show later, medieval nature is doubtful, or at least more complicated. The third register relates to the othe r two, in that recognition of precursor texts leads us to understand the incongruity of these texts and, therefore, the strange artifice, even emptiness, of Lancelot. The way in which White uses precursor texts (occasionally mentioning the source, occasion ally directly appropriating without mentioning the source) resembles the way in which medieval 676]). While the use of this technique alludes to an authentically me dieval narrative and seems to lend a verisimilitude of medievalness to Lancelot, in fact it initiates the critique of the Graal like unattainablity of medieval and modern chivalry that White will pursue throughout the tetralogy. f the analogy of chivalry as a Holy Grail like entity that which cannot be found of Lancelot functions metonymically as a form of critique of the foundations of chivalry. In the end it does not matter if White had direct knowledge of these texts. He certainly would have had no knowledge of the French or Portuguese version of the Post Vulgate Cycle. 20 But the fact is, White tapped into this pedigree of semiotic resonance, used it to i nform his iteration of Arthurian legend. 20 Vulgat publication propose la Socit [ des anciens textes franais ] le 24 juin 1971. Approuve par le conseil dans sa sance du 15 mai 1985
35 CHAPTER 3 GAELI CONCERNS This significant reappropriation of medieval material is not Lancelot specific. At this point, I will turn from Lancelot and chivalry driven examples to suggest that White consistently uses precursor texts to inform and nuance his characters and criticism, and that this technique scholars might begin to address White outside of the realm of young a dult fiction and consider his work in a more serious, scholarly light. White emphasizes his interest in Irish material alongside his struggle with the concept of the role of Chivalry in martial Might and Right in his letters to Potts. Because of this perso nal interest, another prominent example of textual Gawain, Gaheris, Agravain, and Gareth. In this section I must necessarily consider The Witch in the Wood and The Queen of Air and Darkness equally Both sequel books provide an exegetical narrative of the childhood of the Orkney Brothers and their relationship to their mother, Queen Morgause. Both narratives, despite significant differences, are thematically joi ned and conclude with the linchpin of Arthurian of Ireland and Scotland. During a time of increased Gaelic nationalism and pan Gaelic embrace of national identit y and struggle, the views of an educated Englishman with (occasional) Irish sympathies and a pacifist leanings prove to be significant to an intertextual reading of the tetralogy. to six and a half years of living on a farm with Mr. and Mrs. McDonagh in Doolistown (Gallix 93). Gallix and
36 learner as well as teacher, White had interested h imself from the beginning of his stay in Ireland in the language, history and customs of the country... He also tried to investigate the folklore of Irish d to be Irish himself because his father was born in Ireland, said his rosary with arning Irish seriously pretty good at my age, dont [ sic August 1939, White concludes his letter to Potts with a blessing in Irish, equivalent to God, Mary and Patrick be with you (Gallix 104). These letters work. Source criticism necessarily includes biographic detail Scotland and the concerns of the Gael is significant, not haphazardly thrown into his work, because it was significant to him personally. And yet, for his interest in and education on the culture and language of Ireland, White succumbs to a cultural tradition that frequently neglects or m isrepresents Gaelic peoples. For example, White wrote to Potts on 22 December 1943 of his just that they are Irish. The thing partly comes from the race, but i sleep two hours more a night than I used to do in England, and my brain has become a sort of gas mask foray on the concept of race, positing th at it is fashionable in England at present to say that there is nothing in it [race] to spite Hitler but there is. There is a kind of racial volcano, either in Germany or Russia or further east, and this is constantly welling up with new races, who have n ew weapons. They push the older races out wards, like lava from a volcano, until Europe are on the rims of Europe, pushed out from behind Lapps in North, Celts
37 in Brittany an d Sicily, Minoan bullfighters in Spain, etc. Well, we are the last rim of all over here [in Ireland], and here we have the dbris of every inefficient pre historical culture which has been smashed by the volcano in four thousand years. (137) What White des cribes is the notion of the Celtic Fringe, a term which came in vogue in late Victorian years (Heyck 43). Michael Hechter explains the concept of the Celtic Fringe through cover the (Braudel qtd in Hechter 49). Hechter applies this point to the socio cultural demographic of which sharply divides the island into and backward; in contrast t he lowlands tend to be relatively cultivated, populous, wealthy, and by highland territory. Given the choice of high land or low, most groups would not hesi tate to geographic and cultural notion of the Celtic Fringe, but it will suffice to demonstrate the cultural struggle to escape the anti Irish (and anti Gaelic) racism in the academic culture, the political culture and the quotidian culture that would have been inherent for an Englishman in the early 20 th professors at Cheltenham College and Queens College, Cambridge, would have presented many different academic perspectives, including post Darwinian interpretations of racial identity that
38 were common in this period. Anthony Wohl, points out that, in light of evolutiona ry theory, much of the pseudo scientific literature of the day the Irish were held to be inferior, an Saxons an [ sic ] malevolent clich of Victorian Wohl also notes that John Beddoe, who later became the President of the Anthropological Institute (1889 1891), wrote in his Races of Britain (1862) that all men of genius were orthognathous (less prominent jaw bones) while the Irish and the Welsh were prognathous and that the Celt was closely related to Cromagnon man, who, in turn, was linked, according to Beddoe, to the "Africanoid". The position of the Celt in Beddoe's "Index of Nigrescence" was very different from that of the Anglo Saxon. These ideas were not confined to a lunatic fringe of the scientific community, for although they never won over the mainstream of British scientists they were disseminated broadly and it was even hinted that the Irish might be the elusive Apes and Angels by L. Perry Curtis traces the different social reasons and repercussions of the racial characterizations of the Irish from the mid nineteenth to late nineteenth century. The English view nineteenth century, from a drunken and relatively harmless peasant in to a dangerous ape man or simianized agitator [which] reflected a significant shift in the attitudes of some Victo rians about the eating the Irish as an inferior race a kid of white negroes [ sic ] and a glance at Punch [a satirical magazine published in England in the mid nineteenth century] is sufficient to show the difference they establish between the plump and robust personificati on of John Bull and the wretched figure of lean and entertained by educated and respectable Victorians who thought in categorical terms about the
39 so called races of man ts which marked them off as a race or breed quite distinct in looks and behavior from those who claimed Anglo he culture from which his own approach to his or her writing and Weltanschauung. This is not to say that White had been completely indoctrinated with racist ideas about t he Gaels, but certainly the Anglo Saxon and Anglo Norman (English) culture by which he was educated and in which he lived must have influenced his opinion. This oscillation is manifest in his books, particularly the sequel books, and, of course, he makes u se of precursor texts to express and complicate these issues already complicated by his contemporary culture. terminology that I will use and that White used to describe Cel tic language speaking peoples of oned only twice in The Once and Future King The first occurrence is in the third chapter of The Queen of Air and Darkness Merlyn labors to explain the political gravity of the situation between him, as a Norman king ( QAD 229), 1 and the Gaelic confederati 1 he Saxons once had a sort of under serfs, who were called the Gaels should want to fight against me as a Norman king when it was really the Saxons who hunted them, and when it was hundreds QAD 229)
40 are Clariance of North Humberland, Idres of Cornwall, Cradelmas of North Wales, Brandegoris QAD [s] what QAD battle the meanings of the word, although Arthur ought not to hav QAD 228). Merlyn stick to calling them Gaels. I mean the Old Ones who live in Brittany and Cornwall and Wales an Ireland and Scotland. Picts and tha is in chapter seven of The Ill Made Knight IMK 341). But, these knights, particularly Sir T lived now he might even had been locked in a lunatic hospital, and his friends would certainly have urged him to be psycho orman King Arthur must be recognized; the historical (and even a fair amount of the literary representations of) Arthur supposed him to live around 540 A.D, which is nearly 1000 years before the Normans invaded the British Isles. Additionally, White omits and edits part of the Tristram and Lamorak thread of Malory. Tristram, a Cornish knight in contention with Lancelot for the position of le plus preux chevalier portray al of the relationship between the Gaels and the Galls, as he couches it) is complicated by
41 White reduces the Gaelicness of one of the preeminent knights in order to emphasize the wickedness of the Gael when Agravaine kills him for sleeping with Morgause. The associations with a battle axe and with rowdy knights unattainable chivalric ideal) of the Round Table and Might for Right. ist Arthur stick to calling them Gaels? To answer this, we turn to the Oxford English Dictionary which defines Celt [a]pplied to the ancient peoples of Western Europe, called by the Greeks and by the Romans Celt The meaning of the word changed over time and the OED times to peoples speaking languages akin to those of the ancient Galli, including the Bretons in France, the Cornish, Welsh, Irish, M OED that these consti having certain supposed physical and moral characteristics, especially as distinguis hed from OED is less linguistically Celtic inhabitants of the highlands of Scotland; occas. in wider sense, pertaining to that branch of
42 significant abou Gaidheal ) and Old Irish ( Gaidel, Goidel was alluding to this discrepancy in etymology. One final point about race, Gaelic concerns, and White must be made in order to set the politics mediated through rea ppropriations of 19 th century and medieval texts. In a personal to want to redefine themselves as not German after all, and at that point King Arthur became immens ely important, a hero who was definitely British but not Germanic (in fact he fought the driven use of Arthurian legend as propaganda is similar to Geoffrey of ty are shifted around in forgets that Arthur is Celtic (of Celtic language speaking peoples) and recasts him as Norman; the Orkney Islands and people are cultural ly closer to Scandinavian than Scottish a fact that British dux bellorum race of his characters plays out like this: The [England] of this idealized century was inhabited by Normans (Galls), who had come over with Uther, by Saxons, and by Old Ones (Gaels). The Normans, of whom Arthur is one, comprise the chivalric aristocracy who, with their Games Mania and ritualized forms of warfare, act like fox hunting squires of the nineteenth century. By their unthinking brutality under Uther, they have oppressed the Saxons, who actually have preceded them in England, and have kept them as
43 centuries before either the Normans or the Saxons, have been harried to Wales, Cornwall, Scotla nd, Ireland and Brittany. (Sprague 56) 2 The Witch in the Wood which was subsequen tly omitted from The Queen of Air and Darkness. Then, I will consider the prologue of The Witch in the Wood which consists of an extended passage directly lifted from Malory (without acknowledgement of the source), and concluded with two lines in untransl Cirt An Mhen Oche or The Midnight Court. handed in The Witch in the Wood than in the still ostensibly Gaelic driven Queen of Air and Darkness from which I will draw my The Queen of Air and Darkness In y English) words, slightly modernized, into the family history of the Orkney Brothers as they instill an anti Anglo Norman (anti King Arthur) sense of duty into each other. In The Witch in the Wood much of the text describes the adolescence of the Orkney brothers, who frequently go to St. Torealvac for stories and education. When the children ask the 3 ( WW 30). 4 parse a few of these lines to prove these dialogs mix Scots and English, and are not merely, as Brewer posits a dialect repre 2 The Once and Future King ] takes place between the ague 55). 3 Of the Irish epic Tan B Cailnge 4 This episode is retained in The Queen of Air and Darkness with the Scots intact ( QAD 237).
44 information appears in the dictionary, Lallans: A Selection of Scots Words Arranged as an English Scottish Dictionary, with Pronunciation and Examples in the entry for puir: Spoken puir Spelt puir. A puir man is fain o little. (Jarvie 90). 5 Jarvie defines bairn with the plural spoken bairn z and written bairn s bairns. Auld foak ur tweis White does use Scots, it is usually in this fashion mediated by English. I imagine this is so that it is intelligible to his readersh ip that is not familiar with the language. A little later in this scene, WW se veral definitions for hoots int. an excl.[emotion] of doubt, contempt, irritation, dissatisfaction. v. to pooh Na is defined as, among other parts of Canny proves to have a more complex meaning. Canny, Cannie (Warrack 71). St. Torealvac appears use a mix of English, Scots (Lallans) and Ulster Scots (Ullans). Telling a story to the Orkney Brothers of King Connor Mac Nessa, he recounts that the king, due to the brain bullet in WW 32). 6 The 5 Of these sentences, while identical in meaning and diction, the first shows a normalized spelling, and the se cond shows a more traditional Scots spelling. 6 Cross and Slover, but White has taken pains with it, putting it into an Irish idiom befitting
45 word of interest in this passage is colleen which C. I. Macafee defines in A Concise Uls ter Dictionary English from Irish cailn ] 7 Colleen does not appear in the Scots dictionaries from which I WW 32]). This word can be broken down into two constituent 8 During the games which Morgause sets up in order to seduce Grummore, Mother Morlan rants loudly and a by WW 137), providing yet another example of Scots, worthy of examination. Doon representation of Scottish dialect, is defined by Noisome is an adjective meaning noisy (Warrack 382). The use of the noun hagwife grants more insight to Mother Morlan than is ostensible to those unfamiliar with Scot is probably from where she derives her honorific Mother The final Scots example from The Witch in the Wood I will examine is a four line poem court visiting the realm of Lothian and Orkney with Sir Grummor and King Pellinore. The poem reads Hoots, Toots, Hoots, Toots Will ye no come back again? Hoots, Toots, Hoots, Toots, Here, the Anglo Indian Sir Palomi des speaks lines of poetry from the nineteenth century Cross, Tom P, and Clark H. Slover. Ancient Irish Tales New York: H. Holt, 1936. 7 8 I would like to thank Sebastian Rider Bezerra for point this out to me.
46 colonial implications are rife in this inter textual juxtaposition of Anglo Indian nature of Kipling and Palomides and the Jacobite exile. The complexity of these allusions to colonial and post colonial identiti es can be simplified, in the same way that White seemingly conglomerates the Gaelic nations. Through this patched together poem (which was omitted in The Once and Future King ), White equates the struggles of Scotland, Ireland and India against the Empire o f England with each other. The use of Scots is not limited to The Witch in the Wood In the first chapter of the Queen of Air and Darkness whispering in a strange mixture of Gaelic and the Old Language of chivalry which had been ( QAD speaks in syntactically sti QAD 214]), he speaks English. However, later in the tetralogy, Gawaine speaks in a manner that is distinctly influence d ( CIW is not the rendering of a Scottish accent, and White even embeds this fact in The Queen of Air and Darkness i]n years later, when they [the Orkney Brothers] were to speak English perfectly all of them except Gawaine, who, as head of the clan, was to cling to a Scots
47 QAD 214, emphasis is mine). Sprague, however, does not find particular significance in t his use of Scots. He recognizes it, he cites it in his article, and then dismisses it by writing Highlands; it is simply the old Northumbrian dialect with a later overlay o f no indication of it. It s one of the anomalies of TOAFK that White himself was unaware of many [dialects] that he had included, and the inconstancy of his dialect between Que en and Candle is one such example. (66) Kiltartan brogue employed by Lady Gregory, J.M. Synge, and others in their production for the Abbey Theatre And that is the point to which I would draw attention. Like his seemingly idiosyncratic use of previous versions of the Arthurian legend, White blends Gaelic cultures (granted, mostly Irish and Scottish), not out of ignorance, but in order to nuance his characters, plot and socio cultural criticism. There are many more examples of Scots throughout The Witch in the Wood and a few in The Queen of Air and Darkness It would be a worthy scholarly endeavor to es of Lallans and Ullans analytically, both in terms of what a scholar language(s) in the early 20 th century. The introduction of WW provides a platform for Wh ite to gather and rework his precursor texts so as to comment on contemporary England and Gaelic tensions. In terms of race, White does some reassigning. The Orkney Isles are more culturally Scandinavian than Scottish; however, White neglects this fact and
48 The clearest example of this Irishification of the Orkney Brothers occurs in the prologue of The Witch in the Wood. sic ] Lo 9 in Vin.). 9 Merlyn then reveals to Arthur that he has slept with his sister and introduces him to Igrain, his mother. This ince st that produced Mordred, White believed, was the key to the tragedy of Arthurian legend. White concludes this excerpt Caithfidh an neart gan cheart do strcoadh/ Is caithfidh an a cheart bheith suidhte WW v Cirt An Mhen Oche, a non traditional aisling written in the late 1700s to satirize the state of gender relations in Might without right must give way, and right must be estab 10 and Merriman. In the direct translation, 11 we see the theme of Might giving way to Right the goal of the Round Table. We can also see the blending of an overtly Gaeli c reference with the English Malory, a technique that White will reintroduce in QAD and the significance of which will be borne out further when I look at the use of Malory in The Queen of Air and Darkness s use of Cirt An Mhen Oche Declan Kiberd provides that Merriman was not the first poet in the 18 th conventions of the aisling Put simply, aisling are poems in which the narrator naps in a pastoral setting and is beset by a vis ion in which a woman, representing Ireland, appears to the dreamer to aisling ] to 9 10 I thank Professor Matthieu Boyd for his t ranslation of this line for me in personal correspondence. 11 es the
49 man propound radical ideas about the needs of the body for an unfett connectivity (1.) the transformation of inherited material to suit the political interests of the author, and (2.) sexuality. We se e evidence for first point throughout the texts and revisions I have cited. White took the inherited Arthurian material and, like Arthurian authors before him, molded the narrative to comment on contemporary concerns. The second point is only made clear wh Cirt An Mhen Oche figure and her connections to Constance White, his mother, and his choosing to pair the Maloria n scene of at work here. A final point about Merriman, the overall significance of his couplet in the prologue of The Witch in the Wood (thus, setting the tone f or the book): also edited out of the The Queen of Air and Darkness haired aisling ma y represent the emerging eighteenth century illusion of complicates this figure in his aisling (184). And by calling upon both figures, White complicates his textual wor k as well. Even in The Queen of Air and Darkness which no longer utilizes the quotation from Cirt An Mhen Oche and the use of Scots is edited, White portrays the clan as, in effect, hyper
50 Gaelic. Among other interpolations of Gaelic identity, they are instructed by the Merlin foil, St. Toirdealbhach. This saint does not appear in any previous representations of Arthurian legend Toirdealbhach is the Irish form of Terrence and White signs several of his lett ers to Potts with this pseudonym. Several books later, the Orkney brothers will be equated with striking anachronism race, now represented by the Irish foreign pe race again, drawing attention to the fact that White considered the Gaels to be a different race than the Norman Arthur or the Saxon Robin Wood. 12 However, despite the Gaelicness of their portrayal, when the four Orkney brothers first appear, in the The Queen of Air and Darkness they incorporate the exact words of the Anglo Norman Malory into their family history. In the first chapter, they are huddling together, regaling each other with the story o 13 Gwaine 14 and 39 in Malory). 15 Kurth Sprague addresses this direct appropriation of source material, but does not analyze it. In his article in Arthuriana he gives a broad synopsis of the material from Malory that appears in The Once and Future King and from which Malorian book it was drawn. From 12 Robin Wood is a representation of Robin Hood in The Sword in the Stone White presents him as a Saxon woodsman who is, of course, exceptional at archery. 13 Cornwall is another culturally Gaelic area in Southwest England. 14 15 pyght many pavelyons. And there was grete warre made on bothe 38).
51 colored conversation among the Orkney this use, just that it exists Sprag ue provides that this use of a precursor text is clearly marked in The more interesting problem, I propose, is why did White choose to use Malory in this context? White effectively uses the precursor text to portray dialogue between four youn g men who are deeply loyal to their family, their Gaelic heritage, and their obligation to perpetuate the grudge stemming from setting up the Arthur the very source from which White drew the story of the clan, was Gaelic tones especially when the work is the Orkney clan, begot Mordred incestuously. Mordred is the bastard stepbrother and cousin of 16 becomes the villain; whereas, in the contemporary Chronica gentis scottorum Arthur the Scottish John of Fordun argues, as Alan Lupack notes, that Gawaine and Mordred were robbed of the throne (Lupack 41). John of F ordun writes: Now, on the death of Uther, King of the Britons, by poison, through the perfidy of kingdom; which nevertheless was, not lawfully his due, but rather his sister A the noble turbulen ce] Modred stirred up against Arthur that war wherein both met their fate. 16 Like anything in Arthurian legend, it is difficult to definitively ascribe any one character a specific relationship, characteristic, or geographic location. In other sources, Lot is king of Orkney and Lothian (or one or the other), and sometimes, Norway.
52 Geoffroy [of Monmouth], however, writes that Modred and Galwanus were the neither Aurelius nor Uther survived up to that time; therefore, we may gather that to the sagacity of the reader to deal with; for I do not see my way easily to bring these passages into harmony with each other. But I believe it to be nearer the truth 103) Thus, John does not portray Mordred as the villain, but rather as the party wronged by the (usually heroic) English King Ar assertion of Gaelic nationalism during a time of English hegemony towards the North. In comparison, the English Malory redeems Arthur, despite the mass infanticide carried out at his behest in order to remove Mordred, and condemns Mordred unequivocally. Even the adulterous Lancelot and Guinevere ascend to heaven at the end of Malory. Arthur dies and goes to Avalon. While it is not explicitly mentioned what becomes of Mordred after the battle, it can be assumed that he is not taken to Avalon, nor does he perform a final saintly miracle, filling the room with a lovely scent as Lancelot was said to have done. No, the Scottish Mordred was probably damned to hell for patricide. 17 context of the Orkney clan complicates these figures similarly to his use of the Vulgate Cycle in the Lancelot example. To make full sense of the import of this for the d epiction of the Orkney to his Irish heritage as suggested by source criticism. Given his knowledge of Malory, and his oscillating sensitivity and racism towa rds Gaelic, at least Irish, peoples and concerns, the oddities of his initial representations of Lancelot and the Orkney brothers point towards something interesting at work here. 17 In fact, though his politics are not particularly concerned with Celtic plight one way or the other, Dante places Mordred in the ninth circle in Inferno Inf. XXXII.61 2).
53 CHAPTER 4 LANCELOT, LORD TENNYSON & DUTY AS FATAL WEAKNESS, OR FINDING THAT WHICH CANNOT BE FOUND, A CONCLUSION allusion to the French material tha The Ill Made Knight White describes that Lancelot is more than e explanation for this tirely consistently medieval. Lancelot continues to He believed, like the man in Lord Tennyson, that people could only have the strength of ten on account of their hearts being pure. It so happened that his strength was as the strength of ten, and though i t describes the explanation for his strength; however, this line does point even the casual reader towards the blending of White develops Lancelot essentially a that White is critical of medieval chivalric culture in a way that may have anticipated modern Lancel
54 with its fatal weakness for loving the highest when he saw it, this was The precursor text from which White draw Idylls of the King treatment of her, in a letter to Potts from October of 1939 (Warner 150), establishing that White was familiar wit Idylls In the poem chapter Guinevere the eponymous queen in that fine air,/ That pure severity of perfect light d color which 40). She explains that she felt unworthy to be in the rom which White must have surely drawn: What might I not have made of thy fair world, Had I but loved thy highest creature here? It was my duty to have loved the highest; We needs must love the highest when we see it, Not Lancelot, nor another. (240) A th century text, in which Guinevere is speaking about how Lancelot is not the highes t knight; rather, it is Arthur whom she must love. While the philological parallel is not as correlative in this instance as it is somewhat philologically derived, is
55 and, indeed, a sense of duty. Additionally, Guinevere speaks, as Lancelot was described to have been, from a position of pain. The intertexts multiply and chain together here: White sets up a wrapping of medievalness that can be taken at face value but then undermines this declaration by using an incongruous precurs or text, which we may again assume would have been familiar to someone steeped in the medieval literature and its modern revisions. Like the representation of Dame World, White swathes an empty vessel with the same gaudy trappings that Bernard of Clairvau x accused the 12 th century knights of donning. To the casual reader, Sir Lancelot du Lac certainly seems a medieval figure. He seeks that which cannot be found; he is the best knight on unattainable chivalric quest. But his quest is ultimately hollow and i ncomplete he does not succeed in attaining the Grail and his chivalric successes amount to aiding the destruction of Camelot. Malory also includes this critique of chivalry the best knight loves the queen and the kingdom falls. Malory also pulls from precu rsor texts. The difference incorporation of precursor texts was done out of significance, as opposed to the medieval method of literary production. In modern litera ture, in general, authors do not use precursor texts without intending to make a pointed allusions, whereas in the middle ages, recycling plots and phrases was not literarily significant as much as it was a cultural norm and expectation. White describes La intertexuality which are not medieval because ironically they are transhistorical parodies of medieval method. My argument has sought to show that White was disce rning and educated
56 enough to select parts of the Arthurian legend to augment his criticisms, therefore, his sycretic Lancelot, imbued with Lancelots (and Guineveres) of the Medieval and Victorian period, does not reveal an author unable to control his sour ces, but rather an author fulfilling his agenda. And The ideal of chivalry rarely reflected true medieval knighthood Malory understood this to some extent and the fa tality of this misunderstood chivalry manifests in England before and during WWII. uring loving the highest as a fatal weakness and a position of expressed disdain for war, yet occasional guilt for not aiding the English war effort, he adds yet England in the early 20 th century was that of World War II and, before that, World War I. veiled episodes in The Once and Future King White touts his anti war stance and his lament for the utopian potential of Europe in the 19 th century ruined by the World Wars. The final book of The Once and Future King depicts Arthur requesting a young page, Tom of Newbold Revell near Warrick (Thomas Malory, as I have mentioned earlier), to abstai n (636). During the period in which White was writing this book, World War II had loomed and
57 then broken out in Europe. The chivalric themes of Might and Right with which Arthur grapples throughout the tetralogy are, unmistakably and anachronistically, relevant to this historical context. The final words of the book re ferences a tenet of Arthurian legend that the king will explicit liber regis quondam regisque futuri 1 Using Arthurian legend, White proposes the answer not only to the impossibly ideal medieval chivalric code, Sword in the Stone youth come back in: There would be a day there must be a day when he [Arthur] would come back to Gramarye with a new Round Table which had no cor ners, just as the world had none a table without boundaries between the nations who would sit to feast there. The hope of making it would lie in culture. If people could be persuaded to read and write, not just to eat and make love, there was still a chanc e that they might come to reason. (639) sic Malory wrote was a sim ilarly tumultuous period for the English people. The Hundred Years War (1337 1453), between France and England, had just concluded and England was entering a time of internal strife known as the War of the Roses (1455 1485). The English people looked to st ories, such as those of Arthur, for nationalistic reassurance. If a story is important enough to be passed down, it resonates with a national (or international) audience and the Arthuriad is one of and it seemed that Europe was falling to forces of Might over Right. White offers a critique of Might, even Might for Right, at a time when Might and Might for Right were being called into question in England and on an unprecedented global scale. In order to provide a comfort to the English people, immediate purpose was to create a type of the ideal knight and the foremost among all of 1
58 Arthur's knights. His larger purpose was to show Lancelot and the court to which he belonged in a prelapsarian s tate, preceding and tragically contrasting with the corruption and downfall to for Right, which destroyed Camelot. Like Camelot, Europe in the 19 th century appeared to have had a utopian potential; however, Might had destroyed that in the 20 th century. But hope, as White points out, lays in civilization, and through a renewed unders tanding of the concepts of Might and Right, in both modern and medieval contexts. T.H. White resurrected Arthur with the aim of giving hope to the English people in their time of greatest need, just as Arthur himself was promised to do. Gallix describes Wh never quite reconcile himself with the idea that he was taking no active part in the war White eventually came to view the writing of The Once and Future King as, fundamentally, his contribution to the war effort. In the nineteenth century, in order to help unite the principalities, Germany adopted the Nibelungenlied as its national li terature. This spurred other European nations to find the commonality of their peoples through a shared literature. France looked to the Chanson de Roland and Norway, Iceland and other Scandinavian countries touted the Norse Sagas, such as Laxadaela Saga and Each of these texts provided a point of pride, as well as a common mythological heritage by which to rally and unite the nation that it represented. In the first half of the twentieth century, as in the twelfth and fifteent h centuries, the English people needed a figure like Arthur behind which to rally. White joins Lewis and Tolkien in offering the English peoples a myth of national self invention and reliance steeped in lore and nostalgia, but culturally reflexive of the
59 contemporary period. And, as important, a myth whose relations to its sources were deeply troubled.
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61 Studies in Philology Vol. 70. 3 (Jul. 1973). 252 68. Print. Hecter, Michael. Internal Colonialism: The Celtic Fringe in British National Development, 1536 1966 Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. Print. Jarvie, James Nicol. Lallans: A selection of Scots Words Arranged as an English Scottish Dictionary, with Pronunciation and Examples London: Wren Books, Ltd., 1947. Print. John of Fordun. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas. 1872. Online. Kiberd, Declan. Irish Classics London: Granta, 2000. Print. Lacy, Norris J. L ancelot grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post Vulgate in Translation. New York: Garland Publishing, 1992. Print. Lehmberg, Stanford E., and Thomas W. Heyck. A History of the Peoples of the British Isles London: Routledge, 2002. Print. Lewis C. S., and Walter Hooper. Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature Cambridge Eng.: University Press, 1966. Print. Lupack, Alan. The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2005. Print. Macaf ee, Caroline. A Concise Ulster Dictionary Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print. Malory, Thomas, and Eugne Vinaver. Works [of] Malory Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press, 1977. Print. Merriman, Brian, Donough MacConmara, Percy A. Ussher, an d W B. Yeats. The Midnight Court and the Adventures of a Luckless Fellow London: J. Cape, 1926. Print. and Frank O'Connor. The Midnight Court London: M. Fridberg, 1945. Print. Cirt an Mhen Oche Clr Cinn Trans. Noel Fahey. n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. ( http://www.showhouse.com/midnight_court2.html ) Online. Tolkien and source T olkien and the Study of His Sources: Critical Essay s Ed. Jason Fisher. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co, 2011. Print. Robinson, Mairi. The Concise Scots Dictionary Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1985. Print.
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63 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Emerson Storm Fillman Richards loves learning and for that she has been called a dilettante. Her undergraduate degrees are in English ( summa cum laude ) and Medieval Studies ( magna cum laude ) with a minor in geography. In 2009, she lived in Germany briefly; this was a major life event. From her experiences abroad, she produced two publications of travel writing & journalism a field of which she intends to continue the noble pursuit. Her graduate degree is in English Literat ure, though during the course of this degree she also studied French and Breton language and literature. Her academic interests range from Dante to Lolita from Jules Verne to the Celtic material. Her interests are more or less interrelated. She enjoys mak ing films on 16 and 8mm and owns several projectors. Emerson has lived in Gainesville, Florida since January of 2006; she has grown to love the town and a few of the people. In the Fall of 2013, she will attend Indiana University Bloomington to pursue a P hD in Comparative Literature, focusing on the medieval vernacular literature and culture of the British Isles and France. She and her cat, Furry Jesus, are looking forward to the adventure, to test their strength and heartiness, like knights, seeking that which they cannot find.