on March 8, 2000
A refreshing take on Arthurian legend, literature, history, mythology and their intersection. Markale offers theories on how different societies constructed their history and mythology (for any historiographers in the crowd) as well as a synthesis of different versions of Arthurian legend. The French courtly romances of the 12th and 13th century are not excluded, but Markale places more emphasis on the earlier sources (both extant and interpolated) for the Celtic tales. A compelling portrait of Arthur and the Celts emerges.
on October 22, 2000
No other book covers the legend of King Arthur better than this!! From the political aspects to the mythical, this book is great for any who find King Arthur of interest. It undermines the myth and trys to dig at the truth, and on the way you will find that many of the stories about Arthur were for political gain during the time they were written. This books goes VERY DEEP, and if you get discouraged by heavy books do not get this! But if you are inpired to search the endless wonders of King Arthur, then get this book and enjoy!
on October 2, 2009
King Arthur lives in legend and in memory, for good reason.
Mr. Markale opens (and closes) with a paean to Marxist Dialectical Materialism as an analysis tool, but in the middle proceeds to write a refreshingly thorough history of the Legend of King Arthur.
Drawing upon all written stories (legends?) of Arthur and then placing them in a context of Celtic cultural practices makes the legend both understandable and, if possible, more captivating. He is perhaps too desirous of perceiving Celtic culture to be more deserving of praise over the stratified (clss-based) Roman culture, to the extent that he seeks to minimize the Roman element in the fusion of Celtic and Roman as personified in Arthur.
He does note the British Celts who fled to Brittany (itself Celtic before the Romans conquered Gaul), carrying with them the legends of Arthur, but more as a resource for the Normans who used that tradition as a bulwark against the overweening pressure of Frankish Paris. Perhaps learning from the Romans enabled the Bretons to maintain their identity even into the 20th century, after all.
All in all, a good history, well documented, with extensive incorporation of source documents in lieu of paraphrasing. In a sense, he rewrites the Legend as real, expecting the Once and Future King to once more manifest himself.
on April 7, 2007
I have three books by Markale (The Celts, Women of the Celts, and this one), and this is the only one that impressed me in the least. Despite its stupid title, this book is full of valuable information, historical, political, and mythical. Arthurian lore and speculations about the historical Arthur are not one of my favorite things of this sort, but for someone looking for a professional study of it, this is your book.
on March 25, 2015
a comparison of Arther and other legends associated with the various versions of the kings of the celts.
Typical Jean Markale book - well documented, good read, many notes, many good details, and of course the
exceptional author's own twist and view. worth adding to your collection if you are interested in european and celt history.
on November 30, 2014
Mr. Markdale has remarkably researched this topic, and though I somewhat disagree with the title, I think the information he presents is thought provoking and fairly accurate. I enjoy his books, though sometimes find them hard to get through as he bogs himself down with unnecessary verbosity. Not for anyone looking for a light read on Arthurian legends.