KNIGHT PRISONER: The Tale of Sir Thomas Malory and His King Arthur by Margaret Hodges

KNIGHT PRISONER: The Tale of Sir Thomas Malory and His King Arthur

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hodges calls this ""a tale of Sir Thomas Malory"" which is a way of saying that what reads like straight biography is really her own free interpretation of the connections between the Morte Darthur and Malory's own life in 15th-century England. In flashbacks from Malory's imprisonment during the Wars of the Roses to his active life as a soldier, Hodges reveals how Malory the knight may have seen his patron, Richard Beauchamp, as Launcelot, his own father as Tristam, Henry V and Catherine of Valois as analogs of Arthur and Guinevere, and even poor, doomed Henry VI as a young Galahad. Not content with literary investigation, Hodges actually places Malory at Agincourt and suggests that his witnessing the trial of Joan of Arc accounts for the prevalence of maidens rescued from the stake in his writing. It's a stimulating and often charming hypothesis; however, Hodges' attempt to evoke the atmosphere of Arthurian romance is sometimes self-consciously ephemeral and needlessly vague. The framework doesn't really permit one to think critically about the connections between knighthood in Malory's day (he himself was imprisoned for rape) and his dream of chivalry, much less to evaluate Hodge's biographical guesswork. Yet, for those readers who can pass the test of orienting themselves, this is an imaginative excursion into tumultous times when neither the language nor the tragedy of the Morte Darthur were at all remote.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux