Malory and his European Contemporaries

Malory and his European Contemporaries

Adapting Late Medieval Arthurian Romance Collections

Miriam Edlich-Muth





A reconsideration of Arthurian compilations in the late middle ages, looking at the complex ways in which they reshape their material for new audiences.
The late-medieval adaptions and compilations of the Arthurian story are a European phenomenon that has sparked both mystification and controversy. Often dismissed as nostalgic recreations that attempt to halt the literary tide, these ambitious projects saw adaptors from across Western Europe combining a vast array of prose and verse sources from different languages into encyclopedic narrative chronologies of King Arthur and his court. Ranging from ornate verse adaptations to heavily condensed prose works, the resulting texts reflect a process of translating, cutting and arranging Arthurian material into new literary incarnations, which nonetheless retain recognisable versions of the Arthurian story.
This study re-evaluates Malory's Morte Darthur and four broadly contemporary European romance collections, including Jean Gonnot's French manuscript, Ulrich Fuetrer's German Buch der Abenteuer, the Dutch Lancelot Compilation, and the Italian Tavola Ritonda, in the context of this adaptive process. In doing so, it investigates how the adaptors respond to the shared structural and stylistic challenges of incorporating new material into the well-known story of King Arthur and comes to intriguing conclusions about the ways in which the narrative demands of late Arthurian adaptations invited authors to populate the Arthurian court with new and more complex protagonists.

Miriam Edlich-Muth currently teaches Old and Middle English language and literature at the University of Cambridge.

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February 2014
199 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Arthurian Studies
ISBN: 9781843843672
Format: Hardback
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Table of Contents

The Adaptation Process
Style and Narrative Strategy
Chronological and Genealogical Structures in the Morte Darthur, the Buch der Abenteuer and the Tavola Ritonda
Narrative Plot Development in the Morte Darthur, the Buch der Abenteuer and the Tavola Ritonda
'The Best Knight in the World': Adapting Character Constellations
Appendix: Note on the Texts and Manuscripts


A welcome addition to Arthurian studies. FOLKLORE

Offers a valuable new perspective from which to understand Malory's work and also addresses texts not well known in English in their own right. . . . [W]ill be useful reading for all Arthurians, and especially for Malory scholars. SPECULUM


Edlich-Muth has written a concise survey and evaluation of five contemporaneous late-medieval Arthurian romance collections. Recommended.CHOICE

Malory and his European Contemporaries is firmly founded on impressive scholarship, and it achieves its goals of characterizing a related group of late medieval Arthurian compilations. Developing a sense of a related group of works provides a valuable frame against which each book can be considered, and it invites scholars to be aware of the breadth of roughly contemporary Arthurian literature. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

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