Who should you fight: Canadian Prime Ministers

Sir John A Macdonald: Don’t fight Macdonald. You will lose. He’s Scottish and drunk and probably would throw a whiskey bottle through your head. He would absolutely fight dirty. You don’t build a country without fighting dirty.

Alexander Mackenzie: You could probably take Mackenzie, but he was a builder as a young man, so it wouldn’t be a cakewalk.

John Abbott: The first of the PMs nobody can name. I mean, sure, go for it, but nobody will know who you’re talking about when you win.

John Thompson: He was overweight enough that he died in office from a heart attack. You’d win, feel bad, AND nobody would know who you were talking about.

Mackenzie Bowell: Make a poop joke about his last name. He’d kick your ass, but it would be funny.

Charles Tupper: He may have only been PM for 69 days, but if you made a crack about his neckbeard, he’d probably lose it and beat you in a rage. Not worth it.

Wilfrid Laurier: Fight Laurier. Get him talking about a grand vision for Canada and drop him in the gut. You can win this one.

Robert Borden: You might lose to Borden, but wouldn’t it feel good to sock someone who ran under “A White Canada” in the mouth?

Arthur Meighen: Absolutely fight Meighen. Meighen looks like he has never worked a day with his hands. Tell him he was one of the least effective Prime Ministers and then Winnipeg Strike his ass.

William Mackenzie King: Oh man, this would not go well. Built like a brick wall and he would probably summon up ghosts. He’d tell you it he’d want to fight in English and deny it in French, and he’d just absorb whatever you threw at him.

R. B. Bennett: Remind him he is considered the worst Prime Minister this country has ever seen. He’ll go off and sulk in England and you’ll win by default.

Louis St. Laurent: I mean, I guess you could fight St. Laurent. You’d probably win, but nobody seems to feel strongly about him on pretty much anything, so is it worth it?

John Diefenbaker: Don’t fight Dief. Dief the Chief would go into some wild prairie prophet trance and would keep on hitting you long after you stopped moving. And if you somehow won, you’d then have to deal with all of Saskatchewan seeking revenge. Laugh now, but even if you can see them coming for three days, they will never, ever stop.

Lester B. Pearson: Why would you fight Mike Pearson? What kind of person would see that bowtie and Nobel Peace Prize and want to fight? You’d win and you would feel horrible.

Pierre Trudeau: DO NOT FIGHT TRUDEAU. Pierre isn’t a big man, but he’s all wiry muscle and insouciance. He’d probably have a knife under his rose and he would hit you with a saucy quip as you lay bleeding on the floor.

Joe Clark: What did Joe ever do to you? Go fight Mulroney instead.

John Turner: You could take Turner, he’d have no option.

Brian Mulroney: You think Mulroney would be a fighter, but that chin is made of glass. Everybody in Atlantic Canada would help you, and it would bring the country together.

Kim Campbell: Again, why would you fight Campbell? She wasn’t PM long enough to do anything. Fight Mulroney.

Jean Chretien: DO NOT FIGHT CHRETIEN. DO. NOT. FIGHT. CHRETIEN. When Chretien was a child, he started a new semester by finding the biggest kid in his grade and beating the shit out of him. You’re lucky if all he does is give you the Shawinigan Handshake. He will fight hard, he will fight dirty, and he will destroy you.

Paul Martin: Tell him that his legacy is overshadowed by Chretien. Easy win.

Stephen Harper: You’d think this would be an easy win, but Harper is like 6″2′. If you got the drop on him, you could lay him out, but if you got him mad enough he would probably snap and channel all that rage he’s been holding in into a flailing fury.

Justin Trudeau: He’s young, athletic, and a boxer. In a fair fight he’d go into his yoga trance and beat you. Use dirty tactics. Be careful that he does not seduce you instead.

itsonlypoetry  asked:

People keep saying that the PM can't criticize Trump because of the rules of diplomacy. To what extent is this actually true? (Thank you for all the work you do!)

Pierre Elliiott Trudeau acknowledged controversial countries (Cuba, China) during the Cold War.

Jean Chretien pulled Canada out of the Iraq war against the wishes of the US president.

Stephen Harper put huge pressure on Obama to acccept the Keystone XL pipeline (and that hurt relations a bit but the US didn’t cut ties with us).

So, I think there is a little leeway to do something now. I’m not talking about blatantly insulting the POTUS or trying to provoke the US government, but it just feels wrong to do nothing and pretend that Donald Trump is any other president. The things he is doing are destroying peoples lives and he’s only been in office a few weeks. It feels morally wrong to do nothing right now.


My edit: the Family of Orkney and the Children of Morgause: Gawain, Agravaine, Clarissant, Gaheris, Gareth, Mordred.

The five brothers were named in Le Mort d'Arthur and other important arthurian sources, for example the romances of Chretien de’ Trois. In Le Mort d'Arthur of Malory, Gawain, Agravaine, Gaheris and Gareth are sons of Morgause and Lot King of Orkney, meanwhile Mordred was born by the accidental incest between Morgause and King Arthur.

Clarissant, the only daughter of Morgause, didn’t appeared in Le Mort d’ Arthur, but only in some marginal legends. I personally love the headcanon that she is a selkie, and I adopted it.

book crossovers I’d like to read 5/10 : The Witcher & Arthurian legends

Because of the ending, I could kill would love to see Ciri at the Arthur’s court. But even more, a crossover between The Witcher and Kaamelott. If you aren’t french, you don’t know this wonderful show: a humorous version of arthurian legends but surprinsily faithful to the books, miwing with Fantasy and geek-references.  For a short summary: Arthur is a depressing king with dumb knights around. Perceval is naive and doesn’t understand a thing (but good hearted), Gauvain speaks with non-sense and doesn’t know how to fight…
I’d love to see Arthur geeting better with a true warrior-lady like Ciri and she would add some new jokes. Plus, dimensional travels are accepted in the show!

Let me dream…

George Barbierfor Cartier, 1914. 

Librairie Chretien, Paris. 

George Barbier was a frequent contributor to the Gazette du Bon-Ton and an influencer of other designers of the period. He met Louis Cartier who introduced his work his  to Charles Jacqueau, Cartier’s head designer.


My edit: My OTPs in Arthurian Legends [3/?]: Mordred & Guinevere - The traitor of Camelot and the Fair Queen

(someone was interested about this ship? Maybe @fuckyeaharthuriana ?)

Well, yes, I ship them. Never forget that in older versions of the arthurian tales (like the Historia Regum Britanniae of Geoffrey of Monmouth, dated 1136, or the Romans of Brut, a translation in French dialect of the Historia of 1155) Guinevere cheated Arthur with Mordred and not with Lancelot (Lancelot was created by Chretien of Troyes in his famous poem  Lancelot ou le Chevalier à la charrette)

I’ve some headcanons about them, you could read them under the cut

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Does you have any very unpopular opinions about narnia?

I think I differ from people in my immediate circle in that I don’t think “shameless allegory” makes for innately weaker storytelling than other genres; sure, the Narnia books don’t tell a self-contained story, but that’s true of a lot of books—arguably, all of them. That’s not to say that Lewis is never clunky or lazy or twee, and that’s not to say people shouldn’t be uncomfortable with that crispy Christian Content™, but I’d actually rather the conversation focused more on what’s alienating and sad about that content, and less on how silly or intrusive the 1-to-1 lion crucifixion is. It is intrusive! It hella is! But ‘disruptive’ isn’t the same as ‘artistically indefensible,’ you know? I’m more sympathetic to the idea that Narnia is [toxic Christian hegemony propaganda], or what have you, than I am to criticisms focused on the ~form. I’m not… a full-on… “no art is apolitical” person, or rather, I am but that’s secretly a really weak statement and doesn’t clarify my opinion on Narnia in the slightest—but I think discussions of genre, especially, are hobbled by this wistful desire to talk about artistry as distinct from ideas (usually as part of a half-assed attempt to make genre seem serious, and usually only with reference to a very recent realist tradition). When that becomes out-and-out meaningless, like with allegory, there’s a lot of. Helpless wheel-spinning? Like the death of the author bicycle got stuck in the mud? Maybe I’m just bitter about how stupid genre is and how people who write about genre often aren’t very hot for Chretien de Troyes? This has stopped being about any opinion anyone has ever expressed in earshot of me, and started being about Michael Moorcock. I’m so sorry!

Sir Yvain and His Lion: A Love Story

(No, not that kind of love story. Don’t be weird.)

One of the sadly oft-forgotten characters in the Arthurian mythos is Sir Yvain (also spelled Ywain, Uwain, and Owain), the son of King Urien and Morgan le Fay.

Now, there are a lot of reasons this is a pity, because there’s a lot that’s interesting about Yvain as a character. To start with, Morgan le Fay is one of the most prominent and fascinating characters in the King Arthur story, so it’s automatically interesting to imagine her as a mother, and what kind of childhood  her son might have had, and what their relationship might have been like. Yvain is also one of the oldest characters in the Arthurian mythos, going back to the original Welsh legends, and one of the few we know for certain is based on an actual historical figure.

He also seems to have a quite close relationship with his cousin Sir Gawain, as there’s a whole poem about their adventures together, and various other works mention their relationship (in Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, Arthur banishes Yvain on suspicion that he’s in league with Morgan’s plots. Gawain’s response is to declare “Whoso banisheth my cousin-germain shall banish me,” and march out right alongside him.)

However, by far the coolest thing about Yvain, and the reason I am disappointed that he isn’t in every Arthurian adaptation ever, is that he has a lion.

The backstory to this is fantastic: Yvain is off questing, as Round Table knights tend to do, when he comes across a lion and a snake fighting. He saves the lion from the snake (including doing a quick bit of surgery “to sever a piece of the lion’s tail because the head of the wretched serpent still gripped the tail”), fully expecting the lion to turn and attack him for his trouble. Instead, the lion becomes his devoted companion for life out of gratitude, and protects him loyally at every turn (and vice versa.)

If you are wondering if this can possibly be as awesome as it sounds, I’ve compiled a selection of quotes from Yvain, the Knight of the Lion by Chretien de Troyes (this translation). Here be badassery, loyal companionship, and a whole lot of sass:

Quote 1:

Sir Yvain made his way directly to the fortress. As many as seven pages rushed forward; they had lowered a drawbridge for him and gone to meet him. Terrified at the sight of the lion accompanying him, they asked him if he would be pleased to leave his lion at the gate lest the animal wound or kill them. “Say no more,” he replied. “I shall never enter without him. Either we shall both be lodged, or I shall stay outside, for I love him as much as my own being. Yet have no worry about him, for I shall keep him so well in hand that you may feel perfectly safe.

“Let us hope so,” they answered.

Quote 2:

The seneschal made a foolish response. His opponent, he said, might use anything he wanted against them, provided the lion not harm them. Yvain replied that he had not brought his lion there as his champion, nor did he want any but himself in the combat. But if his lion attacked, let them defend themselves well against him, for he himself guaranteed nothing.

Note: I love that this is basically the original version of this scene:

Quote 3:

The lion’s initial assault proved most helpful. The seneschal was on foot, and and the lion attacked him with such fury that he sent the meshes of his hauberk flying as if they were straw. He dragged him down so hard that he tore the flesh off his shoulder and his side. Whatever he touched, he stripped away, leaving the entrails exposed. 

The two others suffered for that injury. Now the sides were even on the field. The seneschal could not escape death; he was wallowing and weltering in the stream of crimson blood pouring from his body. The lion attacked the others. Neither by threats nor by blows could Sir Yvain restrain him, though he struggled hard to do so. The lion undoubtedly knew that his master did not disdain his aid but, to the contrary, loved him the more for it. He went savagely at the men until they, having reason to lament his blows, had wounded and maimed him.

When Sir Yvain saw his lion wounded, his heart was justifiably enraged. He strove to wreak vengeance by pursuing the men with such boldness that he brought them to disgrace; unable to make further defense, they threw themselves on his mercy.

Because of the aid he had offered, the lion was in great pain, and he was rightly distressed by his two wounds. For his part, Sir Yvain was not at all free of injury himself, for his body was covered with wounds. Yet he worried more about his lion’s suffering than about his own condition.

Quote 4:

As he set off, Yvain was worried and upset about his lion. He had to carry him, since the lion was unable to follow. With moss and ferns, he made a litter for him on the inside of his shield. When he had fashioned the bed for him, he laid the lion down as gently as possible and stretched him out on the shield.

On his shield Yvain dragged him in this manner until he came to the gateway of a fine and strong castle.

Quote 5:

Afterwards they never disturbed him once he was in his bed. And the lion, as usual, lay at his feet.

Quote 6:

Then the two hideous and black sons of the demon arrived. Each of the two carried a jagged club of cornel wood, covered with copper and then wound with brass. Though they were armed from their shoulders down to their knees, their heads and faces were unprotected and their huge legs bare. Equipped like this, they approached, and for protection they held before their faces round shields that were light and strong. The lion started to tremble the moment he saw them, for he noted their equipment and realized that they were coming to fight his master. Shaking with boldness and anger, he bristled, his hair and his mane standing on end. As he beat the ground with his tail, he resolved to rescue his master before they had the chance to kill him. But when the two saw him, they exclaimed: “Vassal, your lion threatens us. Take him from here! Follow our orders and place him where he cannot manage to hurt us or help you. Otherwise admit your defeat. If he could, the lion would gladly help you, and you must be on your own to sport with us.”

“You are the ones who fear him; take him away yourselves,” Sir Yvain answered. “I am pleased and satisfied for him to hurt you, if ever he can, and I am delighted to have his aid.”

Arthurian Legends

The early Arthur: history and myth

  • De Excidio Britanniae by Gildas, 490-560. To castigate the native British of his time in general, and a specific set of their kings in particular for their sins. In process he did provide something like an account of British history since the end of Roman rule, but it was sketchy, selective and vague, It was intended to  accuse the Britons of being both morally bad and unwarlike, and their defeats by the English as a just punishment by God.
  • Bede, 730s. To make out his own people, the English, to be the chosen people of God and the true heirs of the Romans. To justify that view, the native British had to be like the Biblical Canaanites: the low life that got swept aside in the proper implementation of God’s plan for Britain.
  • Historia Brittonum completed in Gwynedd, the north-western kingdom of Wales, at the behest of its monarch, Merfyn, during the year 830. It represented the Welsh as the natural and rightful owners of all Britain: pious, warlike and gallant folk who had lost control of most of their land to the invading English, because of a mixture of treachery and overwhelming numbers on the part of the invaders. Established the Arthur who has been commonly regarded, even since the collapse of belief in the later medieval pseudo-histories of Britain, as the ‘real’ one.
  • Oliver Padel: physical ‘wonders’ associated with Arthur represent the original, completely imaginary figure behind the legend, a giant associated with magic and with marvelous animals, who was later turned by some traditions into a quasi-historical warrior. Arthur and Fionn are the same mythical being, a land-protecting superman, deployed in different linguistic regions.
  • Stories among the Ossetians, a people living in a remote part of Caucasus Mountains. A mechanism has been found to explain how these traditions could have been transmitted to Britain, in the form of Sarmatian cavalry from the steppes north of the Caucasus, who were deployed by the Romans.
  • The legend in archaic Greece. A king of Arcadia called Arktouros. 104 passages in Greek and Roman literature that appear to refer to characters or episodes from the Arthurian romances.
  • The traditional appeal of archeology, since it began to emerge in the late nineteenth century, has been as a quest romance, undertaken to reveal the truth about particular episodes of the human past. Hugely more expensive than historical studies, and projects that make a powerful appeal to the popular imagination stand the best chance of raising the necessary money. To a post-war Britain, caught in the process of resigning its imperial and Great Power status, and jettisoning most of the attitudes and ideologies left from its Victorian apogee, the Arthur of the Historia Brittonum seemed to be a traditional hero better fitted than most to adapt to changing needs. Funding decreased later, reflecting the waning of the 1960s romanticism and idealism, in the harsher, more cynical and more pessimistic cultural climate of the late 1970s.
  • Ever since he appears in the record, Arthur has been more than one kind of being, demanding more than one kind of understanding. In that sense, the ‘early’ Arthur is actually more complex than many of those who have featured in legend since.

The twelfth-century Arthur

  • The History of Kings of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth. Invented a proud past for Britain before the invasions of foreign races. (On the face of it, there was nothing to be proud of: the Celts had been overrun, first by the Romans, then by the Anglo-Saxons, and then again by the Normans.)
  • Arthur so close comes to realizing it that the story of his rise and fall seems to have been shaped to impress upon us its tragic quality of ‘almost-but-not-quite’.
  • Chretien de Troyes. Having thrown off the shackles of history, he presents a universe that is self-consciously fictional and obeys its own rules. When he does not want to provide any justification for these rules, he simply calls them ‘customs’. The Knight of the Cart: true lovers know that Love has its own laws and is itself a religion, so if Lancelot’s actions are shameful and objectionable by all reasonable standards (Christian morality, chivalric honour), they are paradoxically necessary and meritorious in the cause of Love. The Story of the Grail: inscrutable principles of causality.
  • Grail: ‘a serving dish’, though certainly elevated beyond the ordinary by describing it in hyperboles and by giving it the sacred function of carrying the eucharist (Chretien). The cup of the Last Supper, given by Pilate to Jesus’ disciple Joseph of Arimathea (Robert de Boron). An emanation of the divine in the earthly world (Vulgate). A stone, lapsit exillis, once the seat of the neutral guarded angels and is now jealously guarded by the Grail family who live on the food it miraculously provides (Wolfram von Eschenbach).

The thirteenth-century Arthur

  • The ethic of solitary and individual enterprise; the knight-errant hero and the quest; the search for chivalric identity; the court of Arthur as the point of departure and the benchmark for individual adventure; the tournament as the locus for chivalric competition; the exploration of sexuality and desire; the conflict and reconciliation of love and chivalry; the pleasures of deferral; the problematic and irresistible ultimate adventure, the Grail.
  • Fascination of the Grail: deferral – ‘ending’, which one would expect to be the first consideration of any continuator, is not a preoccupation. The marked tendency towards cyclicity.
  • Robert de Boron responsible for the leap of imagination which transforms Chretien’s mysterious but neboulous Grail into the cup of the Last Supper. Wolfram von Eschenbach transforms the dish into a stone with mysterious powers guarded in a Grail Castle Munsalvaesche by an order of Grail Knights.
  • Lancelot remains as the epitome of passionate love and it is his son, Galahad, named for the ancestor whose connections link him directly to Christ, chaste and unsullied, engendered in mysterious and magical circumstances, who usurps his father’s name and takes on the role of spiritual hero. He is who finally achieves the Grail and puts an end to the ‘adventures’ of Logres. Lest the Grail quest come to seem a mere parenthesis in the biography of Lancelot and the history of Arthur, it becomes their defining moment: in the wake of the disappearance of the Grail, the Knights of the Round Table lose the chivalric impetus that built the kingdom.
  • The image of an ideological continuity, an ordered vision of world history. It is not fate which destroys the Arthurian idyll, but moral and spiritual forces generated by the characters themselves, and which find their narrative roots hundreds of pages previously. This is a vision of world history encapsulated in the dream of Fortune’s Wheel which Arthur is vouchsafed before the final battle and which epitomizes an organic understanding of world history and the rise and fall of kingdoms and civilizations.
  • Controlled narrative. Crucial to it is the pattern alternating assembly with dispersal: the great religious festivals which bring the Round Table at Arthur’s court as both the locus for communal activity and the arena from which individual knights are scattered to solitary adventure. Alternating chivalric activity with withdrawal.
  • Early Gawain romances: burlesque, faintly louche atmosphere. Gawain appears as a flirt if not an outright seducer.
  • The thirteenth century institutionalizes the parameters of what the modern reader will think of as ‘the Arthurian legend’; that makes Arthur the epitome of personal misrule; makes the overwhelming adulterous passions something to be celebrated (while recognizing its potential for tragedy); favours the collective over the individual enterprise; honours the elect and his impossible spiritual excellence over the prowess of the merely mortal.

The fourteenth-century Arthur

  • Arthur passes from defending his own territory to conquering lands held by the Emperor of Rome. Arthur’s war-plans become openly imperialistic. He claims his descent from those British kings who formerly ruled Rome – just such an argument was used by English kings of the time in support of their claims on Scotland.
  • ‘Truth’ is a key item in fourteenth-century English vocabulary; denoted all kinds of fidelity – to a lord, a companion, or a lover, and also to one’s own pledged word.
  • Sir Gawain: the logic of stories such as this predicts that a hero who faithfully keeps to his agreement will be spared by his adversary at the return match. Green Knight blames Gawain the less since it was because ‘he loved his life’ that Gawain clung on to the belt – a politer way od referring to his fear of death, a natural passion.

The fifteenth-century Arthur

  • Malory’s immense subsequent influence lies in his perception that there might be unity that made sense of Arthur’s career and the Round Table world as a whole.
  • By contrast, in Scots traditions, the illegitimate Arthur usurped the rightful heir Mordred, son of Uther’s only legitimate child Anna and Lot of Lothian, so that Mordred’s rebellion becomes his bid for his birthright.
  • Dame Ragnelle. Gawain plays a central role characterized not only by his brave submission to tests, but also by his avoidance of coercion and courteous respect for others’ identity. Arthur himself – not in control of events – presented in a questionable and undignified light.
  • Arthur’s imperious impetus to compel submission and to appropriate. Chivalrously compassionate conqueror (Malory). Campaign to overcome Rome itself is both his crowning achievement yet also (implicitly) a hubristic overstepping, promptly undermined by news of Mordred’s treachery at home.
  • The obsessive and destructive passion of Tristan and Iseult – claustrophobic, antisocial, furtive and amoral. Malory’s Tristram portrays a fantasy of chivalric society – floating free of concern for any historical moment or political responsibility – it defines its own realities. It can stand for the extended summer of Arthurian chivalry at the heart of Malory’s Arthuriad.
  • ‘Joseph of Glastonbury’ aa the apostolic missionary to Britain and a new English national saint, and such affirmation of Britain’s conversion within living memory of Christ’s ministry had major diplomatic implications. At the Councils of Pisa (1409), Constance (17), Siena (24) and Basle (34), the English delegations invoked England’s conversion in bolstering her claims to rank as a nation alongside France, Spain, Germany and Italy; the date of Joseph’s arrival was moved progressively earlier to counter impertinent French claims for the primacy of their St Denis.
  • Malory’s hermits offer ethical judgements instead of mystical or typological expositions.
  • Arthur values the corporate ideal of the Round Table not only more highly than his wife but also more than any personal interest or injury.
  • The shrewishly capricious personality of Malory’s Guinevere, who so takes her lover for granted, catches something of the unromantic reality of a long-established relationship as Lancelot experiences it. Yet Guinevere has immortal longings in her, and comes to an end that both transcends her life and character, yet proves a development of her earlier constancy.

The Arthur of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries

  • The Scots doubt. The increasing value given to classical learning over medieval tradition: Aeneas more credible nation-builder than Arthur. The new style of Tudor administrative organization made the idea of a king ruling through his great warriors with advice from a magical grand vizier seem improbable and irrelevant. Protestantism recoiled from Arthur’s Catholic ambience and Puritan moralism found the cheerful violence and sexual awareness unappealing.
  • Arthur’s deployment as an icon to validate the seizure and maintenance of royal power, and to euphemize military power from Edward I to Henry VIII.
  • English writers found it compelling to imagine the conquest of the cold, bracing regions to the north as a kind of ideological, political, response to the luxurious antiquity and power of the south.

Questioning Arthurian ideals

  • The romance could soothe tensions between different social groups within the aristocracy by offering an idealized version of unity in the form of the Round Table. The glamorizing of a royal court at which barons would attend for long periods, and so be prevented from building up a power-base in their own provincial lands, was very much in the interests of the monarchy.
  • National politics and prejudices can have a bearing on attitudes to the Arthurian story, as can the desire of clerical authors to educate the aggressive nobility of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries into more courtly behaviour.
  • The Grail introduces the notion of sin into Arthurian romance. In this new context, the choice of black or white armour carries moral significance, and beautiful damsel in distress may turn out to be devils in disguise.
  • In later Middle Ages, there seems to be a shift to stories about mistakes and failures. Failure is built into the Arthurian legend seen as a whole. Arthur and his Round Table knights do tame the wilderness and introduce civilization – but it cannot last. The flawed and doomed idealism and heroism of the Arthurian world are responsible for the enduring appeal of the legend.

Arthurian ethics

  • Arthurian scene is never now. Arthurian chivalry always lies in a past discontinuous from the present or in some fantastical otherwhere, and its contemplated at a distance by a consciously ‘modern’ commentator.
  • Somewhat like the Aboriginal ‘Dreamtime’, ‘Arthurtime’ exists in a constant tension with the present, pressing upon it and on what it may imminently become: neither now nor never.
  • Our moral judgements o  ‘Arthur Life’ and its actors are complicated by our perception of them as neither ‘us’ nor ‘not-us’ and neither real nor inconsequential.
  • Arthurian writers and readers can never fully inhabit the Arthurian moment, neither can its residents.
  • The characteristic Arthurian dilemmas can only be resolved in an elsewhere outside the court, a fantasy space receding within the works themselves. Thus the Grail is achieved in a distant castle, and knights love happily in far-flung domains.
  • ‘Camelot’, viewed as the conjunction of a set of ideals with a lived place, is an inaccessible object of desire and anxiety within the Arthurian world.
  • In the thirteenth century, Arthurian romances distanced themselves from the intellectual playfulness and ethical experimentation of the early works. The Arthurian moral space becomes didactic, a place of lessons directed to the text’s own present. Paradox and irony now signal a tragic mystery weighing on the human race.

Imperial Arthur: home and away

  • Today, Arthur’s imperial conquest is the least popular and least often retold of the main stories about him in medieval literature.
  • Rome embodies what is pre-eminently desirable but the Romans are enemies; the idea is for the British to beat them, not to be them. To become ‘Romans’ would be to become foreigners whose rule is arrogant oppression, so in that respect it may seem necessary as well as tragic for Arthur not to get over the Alps into Italy.
  • The central theme of Morte d’Arthur is to find an antidote for War (White). The literary result is a half-nostalgic, half-despairing retelling of the medieval story as a challenge to the European legacy of violence and militarism. White’s work is fundamentally about the socio-political and psychological effects of education and upbringing.
  • The Cold War concern with Western unity based on alliance with USA found several aspects of Arthurianism congenial: the political centrism of Camelot from which all adventures start and to which all return – the period of J.F.K.’s presidency later became known as ‘Camelot’; the Round Table, symbolizing political unity of the world itself; the sword Excalibur, understood as a symbol that ‘true’ power belongs to one wielder alone, whom all good people will benefit from supporting.
  • The modern discarding of Arthur’s Roman wars is more a means of preserving than abandoning the imperialist potential that they once realized. Arthur is allowed to make war without too many questions asked. The pressing Saxon threat and need for unity justify his will to dominate Britain. Without the further narrative of continental campaigns, he suffers less scrutiny of personal ambition and military aggression in many modern versions than in later medieval texts. Modern Arthurianism still seems wedded to the concept of a ‘true’ ruler, in whom imperium is vested by a superior and unquestionable right. However far from Rome, Arthur still claims the power to intuit the order of things and set global goals, on a destined mission to unite, control and justify his world.

Love and adultery: Arthur’s affairs (the BEST chapter)

  • In romance narratives, the queen’s adultery is a transgression against the king. The queen’s conception of illegitimate child would threaten the proper succession of the throne in a way that the birth of a king’s bastard would not, since the queen’s child would be born into the royal family, whether or not her husband was the father.
  • In the Post-Vulgate version, the king’s incestuous liaison with his sister is recounted at both the beginning and the end of King Arthur’s story – an effort to make sense of the consequences of the king’s sexual transgression or to displace the queen’s adultery with the king’s incest by identifying the king’s transgression, rather than the queen’s, as the cause of destruction of Arthur’s kingdom.
  • Arthur’s relationships with his lovers do not endure, but his love for them does, even after their deaths. If his love is initially won through magic, Arthur continues to love the women he has lost after the magic is no longer effective. He continues to love women who betrayed him, who seduced him with magic and drugs to take his land or his power.
  • As a spectator of battles rather than participant, Arthur risks his body only in love.
  • The body metaphors used to describe kingship in medieval political theory to explain Arthur’s bodily vulnerability to seduction. The immortal yet human nature of the royal sovereign is represented by the king’s two bodies, one undying and transcendent, the other mortal and human. While the body of the man experiences the pleasures and vicissitudes of human existence, the corporate body of the king transcends them through enduring symbolic power. This distinction doesn’t apply to representations of Arthur’s bodily vulnerability in love. In his case, the transcendent value of the king’s symbolic corporate body is inseparable from the king’s material body. To control the king’s body – through spells, with drugs, by love – is to control the kingdom. It locates kingship in the material body of the king.
  • The lack of an evident succession locates kingship in Arthur’s own personal body. His corporate body doesn’t extend to an heir; the symbolic, corporate body of the king is contained by, subsumed by, the king’s material body. In this, the kings is like the queen.
  • The status of a medieval queen is grounded in her material body – in medieval monarchy, the role of a queen is to produce an heir. The queen has no symbolic body through which she exercises or claims authority. For a medieval queen, personal and political influence are gained through the birth of the king’s heir. The queen might gain symbolic power only through her material body, as mother of the king’s heir. She may claim authority based on a relationship with her son.
  • Arthur is also like aa queen in his vulnerability to sexual intrigue. His status and authority are located In his body, and that body is vulnerable to seductions that threaten his status and authority. If the status in the king’s court depends on the king’s favour – on the king’s love – then the danger at the heart of the court is not so much that Arthur will be taken captive, but that Arthur will love his captor, not so much that Arthur will be seduced, but that Arthur will love his seduces.
  • The danger at the heart of the court is that Arthur will love a dangerous woman. If Arthur is vulnerable it is not – or not only – because he is betrayed by those he loves, but because he loves traitors.

Arthurian geography

  • Importance of water, and land somehow bounded by water, to the Matter of Britain from its origins: Arthur’s sword coming from and being returned to some mysterious watery realm, Lancelot and Gawain attempting to cross dangerous bridges into a kingdom that seems not quite mortal, the knights in numerous texts who defend less-unearthly bridges as a point of honour.
  • Tintagel seems to have been inhabited in the years following the withdrawal of the Roman legions from Britain, and was connected through trade with the continent and the Mediterrean.
Let me say a thing

I once find a photoset here on tumblr where someone paragonated Arthur Dayne (a character from A Song of Ice and Fire, if you’re pratical with Martin’s books) and Lancelot du Lac, taking as proofs things like “Lancelot was the best friend of King Arthur like Arthur Dayne was Prince Rhaegar’s best friend”.


Never forget that Lancelot cheated Arthur with his wife, I could hardly take it as a proof of loyalty. (Expecially because the fall of Camelot is caused, yes, for the betrayal of Mordred, but in Thomas Malory’s Le Mort d’Arthur he could hardly take his occasion of stealing the realm without the cheating of Guinevere and Lancelot) Yes, Lancelot is described as the best living knight (or at least, in *some* versions we was described as one of the best living knight. Never forget that in his poem Perceval Chretien de Troyes described *Perceval* as the Chosen One who is coming to became the best living knight. In other versions, the best living knight is sir Galahad, meanwhile Lancelot is the best knight between the “sinful men”) and so able at tournaments such as Arthur Dayne, but Lancelot lacks terribly on the whole “loyalty” thing. Meanwhile, Arthur Dayne never cheated Rhaegar, remained always with him, and 

On the other side: *who* was the one who was so faithful to Arthur that he remained at his side until his death? Gawain. The *nephew* of King Arthur (quite close such as a best friend, uhhhmmm). Gawain fought against Lancelot in the side of Arthur in the “civil war”, and he was so loyal that he was coming to fight **his own brother** (Mordred) when they discovered the betrayal of Mordred. Gawain died into a battleship before the landing of the fleet of Arthur in Britain. Arthur Dayne died against Eddard Stark defending the Tower of Joy. They both died following the commands of their king, or prince. Not surely as Lancelot *shrugs*

(Someone could object that Gawain did negative things in some versions, but a) in the very first versions such as Chretien de Troyes, Gawain was a model of chivalry and courtesy, b) the versions with Gawain doing negative things are all versions written during the period of the *crisis of the chivalry* … and Gawain was THE model of chivalry. The only chivalry didn’t suffice anymore in the period where Le Mort d’Arthur was written. And well, Arthur Dayne helped Rhaegar in kidnapping Lyanna. It could hardly define a **good thing**, no matter if we Lyanna fell really in love with Rhaegar or not)

ANONYMOUS ASKED : Can you elaborate on Charles’ role within the hinting at Richard’s sexuality? I haven’t seen a full explanation anywhere, unfortunately.

(companion piece to this post)

Well, the way I see it, poor boy Richard is crippled with a huge inferiority complex; in his urge to fit in, in his desperate need for affection, he unconsciously and quickly falls for three people.

In awe of Henry (ἀγάπη), who has everything Richard would have wanted to have (money, presence, authority, charisma, genius. Also, he’s “straight”, at least for Richard, but, you know, Richard is straight too, so no big deal.) This is clear in Henry’s depiction : Richard tends to describe his clothes, to recall his words and tone with extreme acuity. There is total acceptance in his relation to Henry; total trust although he is proven time and time again that Henry lies and manipulates; the desire, even years afterwards, to follow him blindly to the end of the world.

In lust for Francis (ἔρως), who is the only boy openly gay in the novel, and thus exerts a deep fascination on Richard (will he? won’t he? what will I do if he does? I’m a boy, he’s gay, I mean, he must be attracted to me.) It is a superficial, teenage affinity : Richard is more obsessed by the act in itself, by the sensuality of it, by a desire he is repressing, than by Francis as a person. His attraction is palpable when they are alone together : there are lengthy descriptions of Francis’ body, of his fucking feet, his mouth, his fox face. There’s palpable tension although Richard seems mostly annoyed by Francis’ reactions and shortcomings.

Keep reading


Diana, Princess of Wales {July 1,1961 - August 31,1997}

“Caring for people who are dying and helping the bereaved was something for which Diana had passion and commitment. When she stroked the limbs of someone with leprosy, or sat on the bed of a man with HIV/AIDS and held his hand, she transformed public attitudes and improved the life chances of such people. People felt if a British princess can go to a ward with HIV patients, then there’s nothing to be superstitious about.”

(Nelson Mandela, at a press conference in London 2002.)

“Hillary and I admired her for her work for children, for people with AIDS, for the cause of ending the scourge of land mines in the world and for her love for her children William and Harry.”

(American President Bill Clinton)

“Princess Diana in her official position and in a personal capacity has made an extraordinary contribution not only to her country but to the world.”

(Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien)

“She was well loved and admired across the Commonwealth and was emerging as a potent symbol of our common humanity in her evident commitment to others less fortunate than herself.”

(Commonwealth Secretary General Emeka Anyaoku)

“She represented Britain with nobility and warmth and she captured the imagination of millions throughout the world with her dedication to her children and to innumerable worthy causes. Her untimely death is a shock to all who admired her and who will cherish her memory.”

(Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu)

“Her genuine concern for the plight of others and her ability to talk to anybody and make them feel special were her remarkable qualities. Her loss has been felt here very deeply because of the wonderful work she did here with patients. She will be very deeply missed.”

(Rebecca Mosley, The Royal Marsden NHS Trustt’s communications manager)

the-thirteenth-struggles  asked:

Just curious. What are good books to read off of for the Arthurian Legends?

It depends on what you want to read. I personally dislike the kind of “historical versions” that strip the magic out of what has always been a story with magical and supernatural elements. To that end, I despise Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Avalon novels. (They’re also pretty badly written, but I could overlook that if literally everything in the story didn’t aggravate me.) 

Another question is whether you want the Welsh/British King Arthur or the French/Continental King Arthur. Lancelot and all his attendant drama is a French addition, so if that whole love triangle annoys you, avoid basically everything from Chretien de Troyes onward. The Mabinogion is basically the go-to for the Welsh stories, which are the oldest versions really accessible anyway. The Welsh Triads reference Arthur and his knights, but they aren’t really a coherent narrative. I’m of the opinion that everyone should read either Malory’s Le Morte d'Arthur or TH White’s Once and Future King (which is based on Le Morte, so they’re basically the same story). They’re good versions to be familiar with as a sort of basis of comparison for other versions, even though they feature Lancelot-Incapable-of-Keeping-Promises and Guinevere-the-Ruiner-of-Lives. 

As for fictional representations … I read a book called (I think) I, Mordred when I was in middle school, and I remember enjoying it. I really, really love Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series. 

If you want scholarly sources to read about the legends, I’d advise ignoring John and Caitlin Matthews’ writings. I’ve only read one of their books – Ladies of the Lake – but it was so badly researched and poorly written that I have yet to force myself through a second. I can’t support anyone reading their books without first having at least a solid grounding in the legends and the Welsh and British cultures in which they developed. On the other hand, Jessie Weston's From Ritual to Romance is a worthwhile read. It’s a little dated in places, especially because it was such a seminal work that a lot of its ideas have become commonplace in literary criticism and discussions of archetypes. Keep its copyright date in mind, but otherwise, it’s very valuable. It was also one of the major influences on Eliot’s Waste Land, which is pretty awesome.

That’s what I’ve got off the top of my head. There are more that I’ve read, but for an overview, this is what my advice would be.