Monday, July 3, 2017

Plan of Attack for My New Book on King Arthur

My previous books on Arthuriana have all been overly academic.  This was necessary for me, but did the casual reader no favor at all.  While I'm not particularly interested in producing a popular title, I also do not wish to present merely a rehash of all my previous blog posts, pastiched together in an unabsorbable and unpalatable form. I've decided, therefore, on a very different kind of approach, where I "tell" the story of Arthur as I've come to understand it.  All proofs will be lacking.  Anyone who needs to access those proofs can find them in my previous blog posts.  What I talking about here, in other words, is a simple, straight-forward narrative about whom I believe Arthur was and what it was that he did.  Such an account may seem odd to those expecting either more or less in terms of scholarly explication or creative expression.  It is not my goal to be entertaining, but neither do I want to continue being dreadfully dull or, worse, impenetrable.

Sometimes I think that we Arthurian researchers and writers are little better off than Sir Thomas Malory, who supposedly penned the great and ponderous (and occasionally tiresome) Le Morte D'Arthur while in prison.  Whatever scant sources he had at hand - like his 'French books' - he cobbled together as best he could, producing a rather amazing synthesis of a series of adventures which themselves often lacked cohesion and even coherence, or were even contradictory.

So, too, we modern writers are circumscribed by our limited extant materials, our scientific or spiritual biases, our nationalistic tendencies, our egos.  We all write from prisons of our own making, or that have been made for us others.  My next book is to be an attempt to escape from such a prison.  Whether or not doing so will actually free me in any important sense remains to be seen.  But if it does, a new and more vibrant Arthur may emerge from behind the bars and walls that have for so long kept him moribund.

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