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Guinevere Paperback – June 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Perennial; Reprint edition (June 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060922923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060922924
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #948,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Described by the publisher as a work which "probes the mysteries surrounding Camelot's infamous queen," Guinevere adds conjecture and broad extrapolation to the small field of scholarly study about King Arthur's queen. Goodrich ( King Arthur , LJ 2/1/86, Merlin , LJ 1/87) assumes the reader has read her previous books and accepted her conclusions about the historicity of Arthur and Merlin. She now adds her interpretations of French romances and Finnish mythology to "prove" Guinevere was a Pictish high priestess. Most of her argument is based on the Prose Lancelot , written in the early 13th century. It is difficult to accept the validity of Goodrich's conclusions when she relies so heavily on these romances as historical proof and provides few footnotes to reinforce her findings. The prose is florid and confusing. Paragraphs often read as though she simply grouped several sentences together. General readers drawn in by the advertising will be disappointed. Not recommended.
- Pamela A. Grudzien, Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mt. Pleasant
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

The third book in the acclaimed historical series that began with King Arthur and Merlin, the world's most important Arthurian expert presents a riveting portrait of the darkly complex woman known only through legend.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on August 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Norma Goodrich's *Guinevere* promises to find the historical truth behind the figure of Guinevere. The blurb on the back, the quoted reviews on the cover, and the introduction all state that Goodrich offers proof here of the historical Queen. I had just finished the wonderful *Journey to Avalon* by Barber and Pykitt, which is full of information on the probable figure behind Arthur, but which only devotes a few paragraphs to his wife. So, I was looking for some more information about her.
Goodrich doesn't dig into archaeology or history, though; the entire book is based on two medieval writings, the "Prose Lancelot" and the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth, and takes these works as absolute fact. She delves into confusing episodes in the epics, and into symbols the writers associate with Guinevere, and attempts to find the roots underlying them. Since much medieval romance was based on an earlier oral tradition, that's all fine and good--except that the more Goodrich finds, the less historical it sounds. Instead of Gwenhwyfar, queen of the Britons, we get Guanhumara, goddess of death and initiation, a mythic rather than a historical figure. Now, I don't generally mind mythic explorations onto the Arthur legends. I gave the Matthews' *Ladies of the Lake* five stars. But the Matthews were up-front about what they were doing. Yes, the Arthur cycle is based both on history and myth. But don't promise me history and give me myth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By N. C. Graham on January 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
The dust jacket of Guinevere bills Norma Lorre Goodrich as the world's most important living Arthurian scholar -- dust jackets, of course, are completely unbiased sources. Maybe I'm missing something, but this book does not lead me to believe anything of the kind. In fact, in the end I was reduced to skimming, her egoism was so off-putting. She claims that she is qualified to do an unbiased study of Guinevere because she is an American (excuse me?), and later describes thirteenth century poet and translator Layamon as "an ignorant, ugly English monk." All questions of manners aside, how does she know he was ugly? It's clear that she is more interested in hurling insults his way than sticking to the facts.

This lack of good taste wouldn't be as troubling if her scholarship were less dubious. She often contradicts herself, as when she says that the "best source for this story of Guinevere is the voluminous Prose Lancelot manuscript," then writes on the next page, "Nothing in the Prose Lancelot comes very close to Guinevere's real life, marriage, betrothal, and alliance." If that is true, why does she regard it as the best source for these very events? And how does she know what Guinevere's life was really like? This is a problem throughout the book, in which she makes truth claims without explaining her reasoning process or providing citations. She seems bent on treating the Lancelot-Guinevere love story as fact (while denying any sexual relations between them) yet never offers an argument as to why he is left out of all the chronicles and doesn't appear until the French romances. Later she mentions a marriage contract between the queen and Arthur, of which I had never before read, yet fails to provide a reference.

Far from living up to the claims made by this book's dust jacket, Goodrich scarcely comes across as a professional.
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By Robert Rey Black on July 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
She is not only the leading authority on King Arthur, but also an honest discussion of other voices.
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By Flint F. Johnson on December 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
So, even worse than the first two volumes of this series. She again takes a mainstay of the Arthurian universe and sorts through the romances until she gets a semi-coherent story. Goodrich manages to take a symbolic woman who had stood for Arthur's kingdom and makes her some sort of Pictish queen using an (imaginary) knowledge of Pictish and later and less credible romances that she carefully searches for the information she wants.
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By R. Richardson on August 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This whole non-fiction series is excellent for historical speculation and reference. Mary Stewart and Stephen Lawhead also wrote excellent Arthurian fiction with much research behind them
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sires on March 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A friend urged me to read this book knowing that I had some interest in Arthurian lore and in feminist theory. The author has me puzzled on both accounts. It's not just that she posits some unusual ideas, it's the flat statements of fact she makes. I know of nothing that backs up some of her conclusions-- and the author does not support these statements with any citations. The first one that really brought me up short was something like, Guinevere's marriage contract with Arthur made her his archivist. That is not a direct quote but it's close enough. Marriage contract? Where did this document come from? And why would she be made her husband's archivist?
So, if you are looking for ideas for speculative fiction about Guinevere this is the place to look. If you are looking for facts about Dark Age Britain then look elsewhere.
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