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King of the Celts: Arthurian Legends and Celtic Tradition Paperback – November 1, 1993
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Markale opens with an argumentative introduction about historians' general reluctance to deal with myths and oral traditions. She moves directly into a discussion of how Arthurian lore in the medieval world was comcreated by ardent and undiscriminating propagandists of the courtly nobility who misappropriated Celtic legends and in the process betrayed and ridiculed them. Her survey of Arthurian legendry in Celtic history purports that through such Celtic notions of kingship, especially the king's obligation to the people, his role was clarified as more than one of personal gain or divine right. For serious students of Arthurian legends and history. Denise Perry Donavin
"King Arthur fans, take note: your dreamy images of this rapturous medieval period will never be the same after you've read Markale's scholarly and luminous revision." (NAPRA Trade Journal)
"No student or lover of Arthurian bravado and myth should pass up this book. You will immediately be caught up in Markale's telling of the familiar tale, and enchanted by the new twists on the old story." (New Age Retailer)
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.