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24324The Fall of Arthur

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  • Jeanette Rost
    May 24, 2013
      John R.,

      I haven't read "The Fall of Arthur" yet, but have read most of Tolkien's Middle Earth related material, and a lot of other Arthurian material, although not recently.

      Didn't Tolkien say that one of the reasons he wrote "The Lord of the Rings" was that England had been overrun so many times by so many enemies that her myths and legends had been lost, and so he wrote a new legend for England?  Of course, the first thing that would spring to most people's minds after reading that would be,  "But what about King Arthur?"  Although I have not researched it, I have read in several places that the Arthurian legend originated with "Le Morte d'Arthur" and is actually French, not English, which would explain why Tolkien apparently did not consider it to be the one English legend that was not lost.

      There are definite similarities in Tolkien and the Arthurian legend - perhaps they could be reduced to "decency does matter" - but I am surprised to read that Tolkien linked his work to the Arthurian story.


      On 5/24/2013 1:39 AM, John Rateliff wrote:

      So, anybody else read THE FALL OF ARTHUR yet?

      Biggest surprise for me was the revelation that in it Tolkien linked up the Arthurian story to his legendarium.

      That, and his giving us in Guinevere what I think is his most negative portrayal of a female character.

      Not to mention that now we'll have to qualify statements about his depiction of the Angles and Saxons in his work by taking into account their treatment here -- at one point he has King Arthur playing pretty much the role the Romans play in Wm Morris's HOUSE OF THE WOLFINGS, wh. I wdn't have expected.

      Plus, of course, the fact that just judged as poetry there are some memorable lines (the best of which, describing Guinevere, was quoted long ago by Carpenter: "fair as fay-woman and fell-minded, in the world walking for the woe of men").

      I think this one's going to take a while for people to absorb, but once they do that it'll be judged a major work. Guess we'll see. I know I'm already looking forward to leisurely re-reading it, more slowly this time.

      --John R.

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