Stephen Hayes's Reviews > King Arthur And His Knights of the Round Table

King Arthur And His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green
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it was amazing
bookshelves: mythology, our-books, fantasy
Read 2 times. Last read December 17, 2018 to January 25, 2019.

Roger Lancelyn Green was one of the lesser-known members of the Oxford Inklings, the literary circle of whom J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams and perhaps Owen Barfield are the best known.

Many of them seemed to be drawn to the stories of King Arthur and the Matter of Britain, and there are several references to those in their works. Many of those references passed right over my head when I read them. I knew about King Arthur from childhood, and still have a book of stories that I read that were drawn from the Arthurian cycle, but it was an eclectic collection, and was of little help in understanding some of the Inklings' references.

I read bits of Tennyson and bits of Malory, but I could never remember who the characters were, and which ones did what. Epic, it seems, is just not my style.

But this book was on our shelves -- how it got there, I don't know. So I thought I'd read it to try at least to get a sense of the characters and what they had done. It was no epic, it was prose written for children, so I ought to be able to follow it.

I read it about 12 years ago, and it at least helped me to get the bigger picture. When I picked it up again last month, however, I discovered U had forgotten much of it. What was the Dolorous Blow and who struck it? Was it Sir Percivale or Sir Galahad whose rightful place was the Siege Perilous? I had just forgotten. I had forgotten all about Sir Launcelot and Elaine, and reading it was like reading a new story (I did remember about Launcelot and Queen Guinivere). Now I must go through it again, taking notes.

But the thing that struck me most this time around was the relationship between Logres and Britain.

It seems that in the early Arthurian stories Logres was just a pre-English name for what is now England, before the English arrived to turn it into England. But the Inklings seem to have invested it with a special meaning, which is referenced in their books, and which Roger Lancelyn Green seems to be at pains to explain here. Logres , for the Inklings, seems to have been a kind of Platonic ideal of Britain (an Idea I might try to expand on in my blog).

So this seems to be more than just a children's book, a retelling of the Arthur mythos for children. Roger Lancelyn Green, perhaps realising the weakness of the epic, adopts a prose style very similar to The Mabinogion. Perhaps the oral originals of the Mabinogion had been epics, but the written form was prose, and the style of this reflects that. Could be the key to Charles Williams's epic poetry? Perhaps, though there is no mention here of Broceliande.
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Reading Progress

August 25, 2007 – Started Reading
August 29, 2007 – Finished Reading
December 17, 2018 – Started Reading
January 5, 2019 – Shelved
January 5, 2019 – Shelved as: mythology
January 5, 2019 – Shelved as: our-books
January 5, 2019 – Shelved as: fantasy
January 25, 2019 – Finished Reading

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