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Arthurian and Courtly Cultures

The Myth of Morgan la Fey

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The sister of King Arthur goes by many names: sorceress, kingmaker, death-wielder, mother, lover, goddess. The Myth of Morgan la Fey reveals her true identity through a comprehensive investigation of the famed enchantress' evolution - or devolution - over the past millennium and its implications for gender relations today. While Western culture consistently seeks to control female sexuality by categorizing a woman's identity into either a mother or a lover, i.e. a Madonna or a whore, Morgan offers a unique duality, a refusal to let her identity be fractured. Here, Kristina Pérez makes the connection between the tension between those two roles and Morgan la Fey's descent within Arthurian legend from goddess to witch.

277 pages, Hardcover

First published April 2, 2014

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About the author

Kristina Pérez

11 books295 followers
Kristina Pérez is the author of THE MYTH OF MORGAN LA FEY (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). She holds a PhD in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge.

She is also the author of the YA Fantasy SWEET BLACK WAVES trilogy (Macmillan) and writing as K.K. Pérez, a YA Sci-Fi, THE TESLA LEGACY (Tor Teen).

Her debut adult novel, THE MANY LIES OF VERONICA HAWKINS is due out in 2024 from Little, Brown UK.

She is the Managing Director of Pérez Literary & Entertainment, an agency based in London, representing fiction and non-fiction.

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
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Author 11 books42 followers
October 8, 2015
Very well-written, engaging, soundly-researched, and a wonderful distillation of the many forms and manifestations of this intriguing and provocative legend. This book is more smart and stylish than you will often find in a book of medieval scholarship, thus more interesting to read. I greatly enjoyed Perez's discussion of some of the earliest traces of Morgan to be found in Old Irish legends and poetry, and she makes some startling and interesting connections to other traditions as well.

The bulk of her analysis and discussion rests on a psychoanalytic framework that updates Freud's Oedipal complex with a new complex that has to do, essentially (if I understood it correctly), with the mechanism of rejecting (or perhaps simply differentiating from) the all-powerful, all-encompassing mother rather than the father as the formative step of maturation in the evolution of the adult psyche. It's certainly a powerful and suggestive model that she generates, and can be a useful starting point for making meaning of several otherwise memorable but perplexing texts. However, the mother-model has the usual drawbacks of a psychoanalytical approach: every piece of the story is made to fit into the same narrative arc, and it can come to seem as if we are supposed to believe that an author is intuitively (subconsciously?) following this model rather than it being a tool of literary analysis that we modern readers are using to find meaning in a text. As usual, the depictions of the mother in this model are extreme: she's either a suffocating nurturer or a devouring she-beast (two extremes we see in Morgan's character, the first more in early sources and the second emerging later), with little room left to contemplate the more nuanced, incredibly varied, and human experiences of motherhood that surely existed during the medieval period and which the psychoanalytic framework doesn't explain or leaves out.

Nevertheless, this approach offers an interesting explanation for the appeal of the character of Morgan le Fay, and does offer a credible way of understanding the development of this complex and very interesting character of medieval myth. Perez's research is wide-ranging, her readings are engaging and sound, and her stamina in making and sustaining her argument is impressive. The book offers a satisfying, scholarly approach to examining this body of legend and, whether you are a fan of psychoanalytic theory or not, her interpretation and understanding of the many variations of the Morgan legends make the book well worth your time.
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1,061 reviews113 followers
Shelved as 'not-sure'
June 10, 2020
I decided to add this book to my list (despite the crazily high price) for future. Maybe one day I'd be able to buy and read it, because it sounds like I'd love it!
1 review
July 21, 2014
A fantastic new perspective on a classic tale. Well written and exciting. I think it may be the rare book I read twice because I enjoyed it so much.
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