[LMB] Arthurian history
Lois Aleta Fundis
lfundis at weir.net
Wed Sep 24 07:21:15 BST 2008
> At 03:17 AM 24/09/2008, Elizabeth Holden wrote:
>> Ietyn called Chrétien de Troyes a plagiarist:
>> What makes him more or less a plagiarist than anyone else?
> As I said, I'm a little unfair. He did the equivalent of re-writing tWA
> from Bazs point of view, and with him resopnsable for the heroics and
Actually, in our terms, Chretien was more of a fanfic writer. The
Arthurian cycle (as literary historians call it) was already very
popular when Chretien lived. So Chretien wrote new stories in that
"fandom," sometimes using existing characters, sometimes making them up.
IIRC -- it's been a long time since that term paper I did!* -- Lancelot
was one of the ones he invented himself, and the
Lancelot/Guinevere/Arthur triangle with it. Though again, IIRC, in
other, older stories, there was a hint of such a triangle but with
another one of the knights.
When Chretien lived, the idea of romantic love was hugely important in a
way it had never been before -- some scholars have been so bold as to
declare that the concept never existed before, which is, frankly,
stupid. And it often, one could say almost always, took the form of
adultery. This was because most marriages were arranged (to create
alliances between families and their lands and money!) and so, since
love was seldom a factor in marriage, it had to be found outside it.
Because adultery was a sin, there would be consequences that the lovers
had to endure, and often the love was not requited or at least not
consummated, because the loved one, especially if she were of higher
rank, was idealized ("put on a pedestal").
Nowadays, with copyright and all, maybe Chretien's works would be
considered plagiarism. But the Arthur legend's roots went back centuries
before Chretien, and other authors of Chretien's day were also
committing similar "fanfic". The ideas of copyrighting or trademarking
stories and characters were centuries in the future.
It really wasn't until Malory compiled the tales (as they had come down
to him in 15th Century England) into one narrative that the Arthurian
legend actually became codified into the way we think of it now, and
Malory lived 200 or more years after Chretien.
*1968. I was a senior in high school. But I learned some middle French
as well as some middle English to try to read at least some of Chretien
and Malory in the original. For example: the first e in Chretien's name
has a circumflex (^) over it. Why? In his time it was spelled
"Chrestien" (it's the French equivalent of "Christian") but as French
evolved into its modern form, the "s" got elided away. The circumflex
shows that the letter used to be there. Almost everywhere in French that
you see a circumflex, there's been a letter disappeared, and it was
almost always an s.
Lois Fundis lfundis at weir.net or lfundis at verizon.net
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