Tuesday, August 23, 2016

COMING SOON: MY ANSWER TO GUY HALSALL'S NEGATIVISTIC APPROACH TO ARTHURIAN RESEARCH

                                                      Professor Grumpy aka Guy Halsall
                                          https://www.york.ac.uk/history/staff/profiles/halsall/

I've recently become aware of Prof. Guy Halsall's attack on my own work in the Arthurian field.  While doing a random Google and Wayback Machine search for my lost essay "Thomas Green Versus King Arthur", I came across this:

https://edgyhistorian.blogspot.com/2013/10/worlds-of-arthur-traditionalists-strike.html

<Smells like Stag Spirit.

I have said before that no one made themselves look good by responding to a bad review but this one is so ridiculous and offensive, and misleading to the genuinely interested that it requires a riposte.  I don't know where this near-libelous drivel originally appeared except that it is set out as though it is in an academic journal.  The link is to a page on the blog of Arthurian fantasist Augustus Hunt (real name: Daniel Hunt - you can do your own bit of psychoanalysis about the name-change; the tenor of Hunt's own pseudo-historical ramblings can soon be gauged from those included on the blog).  Suffice it to say that pretty much every 'fact' or 'error' listed by the clearly-delusional Breeze* is nothing of the sort, but is simply a construct of his own invention.  There is no proof for any of them.>

Now, the relevant URL I cited in my Stagspirit blog (Halsall was unaware that I had rendered in English a variant of the tarw ellyll or 'bull spectre' found in the Welsh Triads as 'carw ellyll', which is quite properly translated as 'stag spirit' or similar) merely presented Dr. Andrew Breeze's review of Halsall's own book THE WORLDS OF ARTHUR.  I myself sometimes agree with Dr. Breeze, but more often than not I disagree with him.

One thing I never do, however, is stoop so low as to make fun of someone's name!  One would expect more dignified behavior from a distinguished academician. To begin, I never called myself Augustus.  That is purely a creation of Halsall.  Second, August IS MY ACTUAL LEGAL MIDDLE NAME, GIVEN TO ME AT BIRTH BY MY PARENTS.  I use it as my writing name, since I merely like the sound of it better than 'Daniel Hunt.'  To suggest that I use "August[us]" for some egotistical reason is, well, quite absurd.  And the charge that I do so is, frankly, offensive.

He makes one more-or-less correct statement in his personal slurring of me:  I could be described as a "fantasist", in that I have published a dark fantasy novel (non-Arthurian in theme) and am now gearing up to write my first Arthurian novella in a series entitled THE DARK AVALON BOOKS.  His implication, however, is that it is my Arthurian nonfiction work that is to be considered fantasy.  He doubtless wants people to think that this is so, despite the fact that to the best of my knowledge he has never seen fit to address ANYTHING contained in my book THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY.  I suspect he has not even bothered to read it.  

But I have come to expect this kind of treatment from the closed-minded, highly defensive Old Guard in the field of Arthurian Studies.  Halsall appears to be no different than his cronies in this respect.  Because he has taken it upon himself to make such false and outlandish statements - all based on ignorance - and has taken the low road of a "hater/troll"-like attack upon a perceived opponent, I have decided to re-read his WORLDS OF ARTHUR and to comment in detail on the conclusions he reaches in his book.

Unlike Halsall, I will refrain from addressing the author personally.  I will restrict myself only to a critical analysis of the negativistic approach which manifests itself in his work.   When this review is complete I will post it here as a separate blog entry.

P.S.  I've not yet lost hope of retrieving my lost essay on Thomas Green, a proponent of the "mythical Arthur" theory.  If I do manage to extract it from an old machine, I will be posting that here as a blog entry as well. 

2 comments:

  1. For the record, I've been reading Breeze's work, 'On the Trail of the Holy Grail', largely bc it was available at my library, and I'm currently perusing your own book on Arthur, 'Shadows in the Mist...'. I'm no academic, nor an Arthurian scholar. Just a nurse/physician assistant (like a nurse practitioner, I'm not sure that's a well-defined field in the UK), who's had a at least a 15 year fascination with the Romanized-Arthur theory. And continues to sludge through the mess of healthcare in the US so I can support my true loves of history, Roman-Britain, ARthur, medical history, and women in Roman-Britain, women in medicine (in every era),etc, etc...
    Breeze's work is fascinating in a mytho-historical sense, in the way I find Malcor's work on the Sarmatians, and Lucius ARtorius Castus angle fascinating: while some (many??) of the conclusions are based, at best on heavy extrapolation, and not much concrete evidence (for what passes as concrete evidence in Aruthuriana), certain aspects of their views are at least worth considering in terms of potential root/foundational hero prototypes, and the mytho-historical morphing they go through as their stories are passed down through generations and eventually become legend, and take on a life of their own. It's this particular perspective which rarely seems valued by "classic scholars" of Arthurian studies, and almost always seems poo-pooed (forgive my uncouth term) w/o them ever truly considering a possible, concrete historical context of Arthur, different than the folkloric or Continental romance Arthur of the high Middle Ages.
    That being said, for what little basis I have in judging such pieces of research, I was actually impressed that your book, for all the 'mystery' of its title, is very grounded, and quite conservative in its conclusions regarding a 'Northern Arthur of Sub-Roman Britain'.
    I've been devouring your articles, along with the 'arthuriana' website's catalogue of the mythic Arthur of the Welsh cycles, mostly for my own diabolical purposes. I think I'm drawn more to the pre-Galfridian (I love that phrase) Arthur (in my context, Artorius) versus the Arthur of the later Romances. There's something to the tone of the Welsh (er, I hesitantly apply the word "Celtic") mythic and hero cycles which has led my mind to distilling a few Arthurs out of the mass confusion of the literature. There are themes of the fantastic regarding ARthur's feats, which make me wonder if he really was perhaps, apart of some earlier, non-extant heroic cycle, like Cuchulain or Finn macCool, with his own collection of tales, feats, and foes now only preserved in the scattered fragments of reprocessed stanzas set down by monks who had their own religious and political agendas in utilizing the Arthurian canon.
    And then, there's that other Arthur, the one I swear was historical in the 'Lucius Ursei' sense. I've been a LONG TIME visitor to roman-britain.org, and almost everything I could digest about the Walls Hadrian and Antonine (and I do hope the site continues into perpetuity in its current address). You're the only other person who has ever noticed the 'Lucius Ursei' inscription from Aballava, dedicated to 'Latis', and not wondered on how many implications there are in that entire few existing remnants of a fort once known as 'The Orchard'.
    I wish I had the chance to pick your brain over a good beer in a dim-lit pub regarding your knowledge, and ideas of a northern Arthur. Alas, I'll have to wait out patiently until your first novels are published.
    The above nonsense was really just to say, thank you for validating that it wasn't just my imagination that there 'could be' a connection, however tenuous, of Lucius Ursei, a dadication to a lake goddess, and Aballava;D
    Cheers, and happy composing!!
    Bonnie

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  2. Thank you for all that, Bonnie. You may also find interesting the following blog:

    http://secretsavalon.blogspot.com/

    That one deals in large part with the "nonhistorical" elements of the Arthurian tradition.

    I'm glad that some of my ideas are "resonating" with you. ;-)

    Good luck in your own future researches.

    August

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