MERLIN by Norma Lorre Goodrich


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From the author of King Arthur (1986), a scholarly exploration of the legendary Arthurian minister/magician that blends the disciplines of literature, history, linguistics, anthropology, geography, and astronomy. Goodrich spends the better part of her intriguing book comparing the writings of previous Arthurian scholars, so many of whom derived various, often conflicting locales and identities for the Arthurian heroes--Arthur, Guinevere, Galahad, Lancelot, Morgan Le Fay, the Lady of the Lake, and Merlin. Consequently, Goodrich's own conclusions become suspect in a wash of conflicting ideas. Where does legend end and history begin? Goodrich speaks of the Lady of the Lake as one of the most respected women of history. History? Perhaps, but one wonders, since one of the main sources of the Arthurian tales--Geoffrey of Monmouth--wrote some six centuries after the event. (The gospels, written within the century of Christ's life, have been criticized on less suspect grounds.) In the end, Goodrich, playing the detective, comes to the conclusion that Merlin was actually the Archbishop Dubricius, a historical personage of the day. In the 12th-century writings of Geoffrey and others, Dubricius appears at Arthur's shoulder on occasions when Merlin is absent, and vice-versa. Thus, Merlin comes across here as sort of a medieval Clark Kent. The theory is neat, if not foolproof. Goodrich offers a valuable service to those hungry for more information on the Arthurian legends--although a solid background in medieval legends would be helpful in tackling her sometimes overwhelming erudition. Also included are new English translations of Merlin's Prophecies.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 1987
ISBN: 0060971835
Publisher: Watts