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15 Medieval and early texts (Arthurian Booklist)


This article is from the Arthurian Booklist FAQ, by Cindy Tittle Moore tittle@io.com with numerous contributions by others.

15 Medieval and early texts (Arthurian Booklist)

_, Gawain and the Grene Knight. Many translations, including one by
JRR Tolkien (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Clarendon Press, Oxford,

_, Lancelot of the Lake. Available in pb from Oxford's "The World's
Classics" series. Anonymous, Arthurian cycle: Lancelot of the Lake,
The Quest of the Holy Grail, and The Death of Arthur. Available in pb
from Penguin. Most later Arthurian texts (especially Mallory) are
based on these, the same way most texts after Chretien derived from
Chretien. The first listed, the "short" or "non-cyclic prose
Lancelot," is a very interesting point in the development of the
legend: Lancelot is not yet involved in the Grail quest (indeed, it is
implied that it has already occurred by the time he comes to King
Arthur's court). The "cycle" is the first (existing) text, or set of
texts, to unite all the fundamental themes of the mythos. Also
available from Penguin is a single volume edition with two long poetic
"morts d'Artu," under the title The Death Of King Arthur. One is in
rhymed verse, the other in alliterative.

_, The Death of King Arthur. Trans. with an Intro. by James Cable.
London, New York, Victoria, Ontario, Aukland: Penguin Books, 1988.
(Translation of La Mort le Roi Artu).

_, King Arthur's Death: The Middle English Stanzaic Morte Arthur and
Alliterative Morte Arthure. Ed. Larry D. Benson. Exeter: U of Exeter,
1986. (There are translations of these)

_, The Mabinogion (many translations.) The Mabinogion is the
collection of Welsh stories and legends, where elements of the
Arthurian legend can be found. These probably form the basis for the
legend as we have it today, though scholars seem to revise their
opinions every now and then.

Blackmore, Sir Richard, An Heroick Poem (London, printed for Awnsham
and John Churchil, 1695). In ten books. Probably out of print.

Chretien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances (Everyman's Library #698).
Various translations. He was a 12th century writer/poet and the single
most improtant influence on the development of the Arthurian mythos:
it was he who linked Lancelot to Guinevere and who introduced the
moral question of their affair (in Lancelot, Or the Knight of the
Cart) and it was quite possibly he who brought the story of the Grail
Quest to Arthur's court (in Perceval).

Chretien de Troyes, Ywain, the Knight of the Lion (Translated by
Robert W. Ackermand and Frederick W. Lock, Unger, New York, 1957, plus
other translations).

Chretien de Troyes, Perceval, The Story of the Grail. (English
translation by Nigel Bryant, ISBN: 0-85991-224-8). The story of the
making of a knight in both worldly and spiritual terms, and the source
of some of the most dramatic and mysterious adventures of romance.

Dass, Nirmal, translator. Avowing of King Arthur. Lanham, MD: UP of
America, 1987. This is pretty strange at the end.

Day, Mildred Leake, translator. De ortu Waluuanii nepotis Arturi. In
The Rise of Gawain, Nephew of Arthur. New York: Garland Publishing,

Geoffrey of Monmouth (1100-1154), History of the Kings of Britain
(Penguin, 1966. ISBN 0-14-044170-0.) Twelfth century historian.

Monmouth, Geoffrey. Vita Merlini. The life of Merlin. Hunter's library
has a dual language version.

Jones, Prudence, translator. Les Enfances Gauvain. In Appendix 1 of
Gawain: Knight of the Goddess by John Matthews. Wellingborough:
Aquarian Pr, 1990.

Lacy, Norris, et al. Arthurian Vulgate (alias Prose Lancelot, alias
Pseudo-Map Cycle) and Post-Vulgate. (All from Garland Publishing, in
the Garland Reference Library of the Humanities. V1, 1993, ISBN:
0824077334 V2, 1993, ISBN: 0815307462 V3, 1992, ISBN: 0815307470 V4,
1995, ISBN: 0815307489 V5, 1996, ISBN: 0815307578 Combined: ISBN:
082400700X) These are expensive books, with a wide range of pricing.
Comparison shop! This is the first-ever English translation of most of
these texts. The Vulgate text essentially nailed down the story of
Arthur and the Grail as it is known to us through Mallory, and it is
hard to believe both that the bulk of it has never before been
available in English and that this edition has been so little noticed.
The translation is highly readable, but intended for the use of both
scholars and casual readers.

Le Clerc, Guillaume. Fergus of Galloway: Knight of Arthur. (Trans.
with an Intro, and notes by D.D.R. Owen. Rutlan: Charles E. Tuttle,

Malory, Sir Thomas, Le Morte D'Arthur (many editions). The classic
15th century rendition of Arthurian legend according the French
tradition. About where Lancelot in his romantic, very French, form was
added, and where the search for the Grail was put in Christian terms.
Notes: Caxton (1422-1491) edited Morte D'Arthur and changed it quite a
bit in so doing. The original (non-edited-by-Caxton) version is
available from Oxford University Press under the title Malory: Works
(1973). In this edition, there are a number of loosely connected
stories: Caxton conflated some, elided others, and bound the whole
thing together under one theme: Arthur's tragedy. Furthermore, there
are various non-Malory versions of the Morte Arthure and Le Morte
Arthur c.1400 and c.1350 respectively. These were a part of the
impetus behind Malory's later version.

Matarosso, translator, The Quest of the Holy Grail (Penguin, 1969.
ISBN 0-14-044220-0.)

Middleton, Christopher, The famous historie of Chinon of England (to
which is added The assertion of King Arthure, translated by Richard
Robinson from Leland's Assertio inclytissimi Arturii, together with...
London, Pub. for the Early English Text Society by H. Milford, Oxford
University Press, 1925).

Nennius. Historia Brittonum [The History of Britons] c858 orig.
published in Latin. The mention of Ambrosius has a lot of correlation
to what is later attributed by Geoffrey of Monmouth etc. to Merlin's
conception and it is central to Mary Stewart's version.

Sebastian Evans, trans. The High History of the Holy Grail. A
translation of Perlesvaus. Everyman's Library, Lond: JM Dent & Sons,
NY, EP Dutton & Co. 1936. There is likely a more recent translation
done in the 70s.

Stone, Brian, translator. The Alliterative Morte Arthure. In King
Arthur's Death. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1989. Paraphrased by John
Gardner in The Alliterative Morte Arthure. Carbondale: Southern
Illinois UP, 1971.

von dem Turlin, Heinrich. The Crown. Trans. J. W. Thomas. U of
Nebraska P, 1989. Version of the Grail quest, finally translated into

von Strassburg, Gottfried, Tristan (Penguin, 1960. ISBN

Wace and Layamon, Arthurian Chronicles, (with an introd. by Lucy Allen
Paton. London ; New York : Dent, Dutton, [1921?]).

Weston, Jessie L. translator. The Awntyrs off Arthure. In Romance,
Vision, and Satire. Boston: 1912.

Wirnt von Grafenberg. Wigalois: The Knight of Fortune's Wheel. Trans.
J. W. Thomas. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1977. Wigalois is Gawain's

Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parsival (Penguin, 1980. ISBN 0-14-044361-4.)
Allows great insight into the mind of Chivalry for those with the
patience. Modern translation of a medieval text.


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