Novak (novak) wrote,

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Personal: Some realizations about Arthur and such

Because my interest was aroused by that ridiculous King Arthur movie I watched the other night, I've started reading Le Morte d'Arthur again, after having gotten bogged down in it when I originally tried to read it through. I've determined to finish the whole of it, instead of jumping around to the good parts. But I admit that the artless archaic English starts to weigh me down, that I hate the format of the tiny, often formulaic chapters, and that it seems to me that an awful lot happens that does nothing to further the story.

Still, having stopped in the middle what seemed to be a never-ending tournament in Book X, I have to say that, believe it or not, having seen A Knight's Tale has allowed me to envision the tournaments with more understanding and interest. Although these were more of Malory's time than Arthur's, I now can get more of a feel and patience for the "play-by-play" reporting of what goes on than I did before. A Knight's Tale gave a good impression of this, I thought, as well as the feasting that was part of the tournament culture, although they did a miserable job of including any spirituality, as you never would have realized from the movie that Mass was a part of every morning. But no doubt the modern "Mass is so boring" insight allowed for that to be edited out of the script. Despite growing up with the same thought, it took me some decades to realize that that complaint says a lot more about usand our culture than it says about what is going on in the Mass. Although Hollywood loves to pander to a vague mystical feeling in portraying Buddhism, no doubt there are millions of young Buddhists on the other side of the world who realize that Buddhist meditation and prayer is so boring, too.

A few of the vocabulary words are throwing me in the text, although I recognize the German cognates that still survive in late Midde/early Modern English. I discovered to my dismay tonight that, no longer being directly connect to the school's net, I don't have immediate access to the online OED. I've got to get some kind of school password right away because that is one of the greatest resources in the world, and having had it a click away for three years, there's no going back.

I did find out that that tribe the movie made Arthur's knights out to be from did in fact exist, and are a part of the current Arthurian scholarship. That was, no doubt, the basis for the vague text at the opening of the movie that assured you that what you were about to see was based on recent archaeological work and was therefore all true, every last word. From what I could tell, though, in the admittedly little that I had to read about it, it seemed a weak argument. In short, it went along the lines of Arthur's name not being of obviously Celtic derivation, and so it must have come from somewhere else and these Roman conscripts seem to fit the bill. A group of these Sarmatians was posted to Britain in 225, and their first commander was Lucius Artorius Castus. Why that's Sarmatian, then, and not Roman, I'm unclear on, but maybe someone else out there knows more about it?

All right, I'm going to go shut up and do some work. It's a "religious discourse in the public sphere" week for me.
Tags: books, personal

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