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General Editors’ Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 January 2024

Kevin S. Whetter
Affiliation:
Acadia University, Nova Scotia
Megan G. Leitch
Affiliation:
Cardiff University
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Summary

This volume of Arthurian Literature offers a range of topics from Celtic to Latin, Middle English to early-modern French, and medieval to nineteenth-century Arthuriana. We are excited to begin with the inaugural Derek Brewer Essay Prize (awarded to a postgraduate student or very early career scholar): see the stimulating eco-critical account of The Weddyng of Syr Gawen and Dame Ragnelle by C. M. Palmer. Palmer argues that Ragnelle typifies the strange stranger, blurring the traditional boundaries or binaries between animal and human; Ragnelle's strangeness both highlights the strangeness of Arthur's court and helps to strengthen that court.

Our first series of studies in this volume focuses on Geoffrey of Monmouth and his possible sources, his rhetoric and his influence and transmission. John Carey offers a thorough survey of Merlin's early origins as a prophet and madman and comparisons of Geoffrey's Merlinus with Lailoken and Merlinus Silvester and Merlinus Ambrosius in Irish and Welsh analogues. Carey is self-avowedly building on some well-established scholarship, but with this paper he establishes the most comprehensive and up-to-date account of the early history of this enduring Arthurian figure. Next, Vanessa K. Iacocca examines Geoffrey's wellknown ambiguity from the perspective of Bakhtinian discourse; Iacocca argues that Geoffrey's subversive discourse undermines the idea of imperial conquest. Having examined analogues to Geoffrey's Merlin and Geoffrey's own playful discourse, we move in Hélène Tétrel's detailed study to an assessment of the treatment of geography and place names in the Old Icelandic Brut; Tétrel uses the Norse-Icelandic handling of names to posit an intermediary source-text between Geoffrey's Latin text and his Norse–Icelandic epigones.

There follows a cluster of papers on Middle English Arthuriana. Matt Clancy reopens the vexed question of the Garter motto at the close of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, arguing that whoever composed the final lines in Cotton Nero A.x, both Gawayn's belt and Edward III's Garter are part of a larger Arthurian and chivalric materialism. The figure of Gawain recurs in different guises and discussions in the following series of essays on Malory's Morte Darthur, particularly in relation to ideas of shame.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2023

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