KING ARTHUR: Hero and Legend by Richard Barber

KING ARTHUR: Hero and Legend

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An account of the development of the King Arthur legends. It is Barber's contention that the King Arthur of Camelot and Round Table fame began with a mysterious gentleman who was, in fact, a ""heroic figure from an obscure age of history about whom we know almost nothing."" Barber's meticulous research leads him to conclude that the original Arthur shall remain an enigma and ""we shall never know his true history."" But it may be just this elusive quality that has endeared Arthur to writers and poets--and even to archeologists and historians--throughout the ages. Barber traces Arthur's roots from 9th-century references in Welsh poetry to the possibility that the legend began with a Roman commander named ""Artorious."" He follows Arthurian references through English, Irish, Welsh, French, German and American literature all the way up to the stage and screen versions of Camelot and Disney's The Sword in the Stone. (Camelot was a ""disastrously lavish travesty"" of T.H. White's The Once and Future King, according to Barber.) This is, however, a scholarly treatment of Arthur. Barber acknowledges that most of the material in the book has never before appeared in popular form. Those who prefer their Arthur in more sentimental forms will find this a bit like taking apart a beautiful music box to see what makes it tick. But for those who want to know the legend's origins, comprehensive and interesting.

Pub Date: Dec. 22nd, 1986
ISBN: 0851152546
Publisher: St. Martin's