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Arthurian Studies in Honour of P.J.C. Field

Arthurian Studies in Honour of P.J.C. Field

Edited by Bonnie Wheeler
Volume: 57
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 352
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Arthurian Studies in Honour of P.J.C. Field
    Book Description:

    Peter Field, Professor of English at the University of Wales, Bangor, is a distinguished Arthurian scholar (and vice-president of the International Arthurian Society) whose work has focused particularly on Malory's ‘Morte Darthur’. This special interest is reflected by the contributors to this volume, but a wide variety of other Arthurian and associated material is also covered in the twenty-seven studies. The chapters range over the whole field of Arthurian vernacular texts and include new studies of early French and German texts as well as an analysis of the impact of Arthurian materials on Galician-Portuguese poetry. Many provide new insights into Malory's text and sources, and these culminate in reflections on Malory's impact on one later American reader, Mark Twain. Collectively the chapters on Malory substantiate the claim that Malory is a keen and critical reader of his source texts, and that he is a powerful stylist. Contributors BRIAN ALLEN, ELIZABETH ARCHIBALD, FANNI BOGDANOW, DEREK S. BREWER, GEOFFREY BROMILEY, HELEN COOPER, JANET M, COWEN, ROSALIND FIELD, LINDA GOWANS, DOUGLAS GRAY, PHILLIPA HARDMAN, AMELIA HUTCHINSON, EDWARD D. KENNEDY, ELSPETH M. KENNEDY, NORRIS J. LACY, MARGARET LOCHERBIE-CAMERON, ROGER MIDDLETON, DAVID MILLS, MALDWYN MILLS, YUJI NAKAO, SHUNICHI NOGUCHI, RALPH NORRIS, AD PUTTER, RALUCA RADULESCU, FRANCOISE LE SAUX, JANE TAYLOR, NEIL E. THOMAS, KEVIN S. WHETTER, ANDREA WILLIAMS.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-262-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Bonnie Wheeler

    P.J.C. Field, Professor of English at the University of Wales (Bangor), is a distinguished Arthurian scholar and Vice-President of the International Arthurian Society. Although he is an expert in medieval literature in general, much of his scholarly life has been devoted to Malory’s Le Morte Darthur. Many of his most important articles have been reprinted in Malory: Texts and Sources (1998). Among many articles and other contributions to Malory studies, three works may be singled out. His Romance and Chronicle: A Study of Sir Thomas Malory’s Prose Style (1971) was the first comprehensive analysis of the features of Malory’s distinctive...

  5. Professor Peter Field: An Appreciation
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. 1 The Grail Romances and the Old Law
    (pp. 1-14)

    In his paper on ‘Medieval anti-judaism as reflected in the Chansons de Geste’, Gerald Herman points out that ‘more … than any other social, national, or ethnic group, Jews are portrayed in medieval French literature with relentless severity and scorn’.¹ At first sight, it would seem that the thirteenth-century Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal² forms an exception, as the predominant aim of the writer was clearly to encourage sinners to repent of their evil ways and to strive for union with God.³ But on closer examination it is evident that the author had also a secondary purpose: to promulgate and encourage...

  7. 2 What Did Robert de Boron Really Write?
    (pp. 15-28)

    The standard intimation in guides to Arthurian literature is that Robert de Boron composed a verse Joseph and Merlin of which only a single manuscript survives; that the Merlin is fragmentary, but that we know what it contained because we have a prose redaction of both works made not long afterwards.¹ I have already endeavoured to show that this hypothesis does not stand up to critical scrutiny,² and now approach the subject again, hoping that my readers will suspend disbelief and consider the matter with an open mind.

    The concept that in Old French ‘verse came first’ applies, of course,...

  8. 3 On Capitalization in Some Early Manuscripts of Wace’s Roman de Brut
    (pp. 29-48)

    The question of the possible significance of the placing of majuscules (i.e., capital letters) by the various scribes who have transmitted Wace’s Roman de Brut to us surfaces with some regularity in informal discussions of the work. The issue arises primarily from the division of the poem into indented paragraphs by Ivor Arnold, in his edition of the work for the Société des Anciens Textes Français:¹ the practice remains uncommented on in the Introduction or in the discussion of editorial principles, but these highly visible textual dividers naturally lead the reader to wonder about medieval scribal usage in this regard....

  9. 4 Tristan Rossignol: The Development of a Text
    (pp. 49-62)

    The Tristan Rossignol story is a well-known representative of that corpus of French texts which deal with Tristan material. It is found in the major collective editions and loosely associated with other so-called episodic poems, such as Marie de France’s Chèvrefeuille, the two Folie poems, the Folie Tristan d’Oxford and the Folie Tristan de Berne.¹ The Folie poems are obviously episodic in that they do not tell a full version of the legend but simply recount one incident, an incident which can be attached to a particular moment in the scenario, when Tristan chooses to travel from Brittany (where he...

  10. 5 What’s in a Name? Arthurian Name-Dropping in the Roman de Waldef
    (pp. 63-64)

    Any reader, medieval or modern, of the Anglo-Norman Roman de Waldef, could be disoriented by the apparently random occurrence of names from disparate traditions.¹ Amongst the names redolent of earlier English tradition (Bede, Edwin, Erkenwald, Hereward) are several Arthurian ones – Uther, Merlin, Hoel, Morgan and Morderet. The editor Holden’s understandably impatient dismissal of this – ‘banalité … peut être due au hasard’² suggests a carelessness, even ignorance, on the part of an author requiring a cast-list of hundreds. However, I would suggest that this judgement be reconsidered in the light of recent work on the purposes and the reception of the dominant...

  11. 6 The Enigma of the Prose Yvain
    (pp. 65-72)

    Manuscript 444D in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, preserves an anonymous fourteenth-century composition known as the Prose Yvain,¹ which is not, as the title might suggest, a prosification of Chrétien’s romance concerning Yvain. MS 444D has never been edited, although a 1929 Swansea M.A. thesis by Meta McRitchie includes a flawed transcription.² Apart from that thesis (and several very brief notices or descriptions), the only publications devoted to this work, to my knowledge, are two short articles, one by Lynette Muir in Romania in 1964, the other a piece I contributed to the Mélanges for Jean-Claude Faucon.³ I have...

  12. 7 Dreams and Visions in the Perlesvaus
    (pp. 73-80)

    The Perlesvaus is substantial¹ and displays a highly complex structure, both in broad terms of narrative interlace (whereby the tale follows different strands, thus charting the progress of various knights on the Quest) and in terms of what William Nitze and Norris Lacy have described as linking and analogy, forms of interlace which operate at the level of detail and involve groups of or individual figural elements within and across episodes.² Repetitions and variations on a theme provide the building-blocks for this romance, as they do for others of the period.³

    The adventures experienced by the knights have symbolic significance...

  13. 8 La Reine Fée in the Roman de Perceforest: Rewriting, Rethinking
    (pp. 81-92)

    The Roman de Perceforest¹ is a veritable gallimaufry of characters: enchanters, dwarves, monsters, loathly damsels and naughty children dog the footsteps of the heroes and, by their positively Dickensian variety, prevent the romance from foundering into commonplace. I concentrate on one of the most unusual of these characters: the Reine Fée. I begin by explaining who she is, and I shall then examine some intertextualities which govern her conception, not in order to explain her away merely as a recycling of previously used motifs, but rather to return to Kristevan intertextuality² which supposes an engagement with, a dual-focused reading of,...

  14. 9 The Relationship between Text and Image in Three Manuscripts of the Estoire del Saint Graal (Lancelot-Grail Cycle)
    (pp. 93-100)

    This chapter has its origin in the project of a team of art historians and medieval literature specialists directed by Alison Stones. We are exploring the relationship between text and image in a group of three early fourteenth-century Lancelot-Grail manuscripts from northern France and southern Flanders that are closely linked textually and artistically: British Library, Additional 10292–4 (of which I will here be using 10292, henceforth Add); British Library, Royal 14 E III (henceforth Royal), which only contains the Estoire del Saint Graal, the Queste del saint Graal, and the Mort Artu, and a cyclic manuscript now spread between...

  15. 10 Wigalois and Parzival: Father and Son Roles in the German Romance of Gawain’s Son
    (pp. 101-116)

    Wirnt von Gravenberg’s Wigalois¹ differs from the better-known Arthurian romances of Hartmann von Aue in its eclectic use of source material. Where Erec and Iwein largely depend on unitary French sources by Chrétien de Troyes, Wigalois is a syncretic work whose material lies athwart a number of story-types and genres.² A tradition of Gawein’s liaison with Florie (a fée whose name is attached to a somewhat different tradition in the Old French Merveilles de Rigomer)³ appears to underlie the introductory story of the hero’s parents, which is then succeeded by an account of a young knight’s testing sequence similar to...

  16. 11 Reading between the Lines: A Vision of the Arthurian World Reflected in Galician-Portuguese Poetry
    (pp. 117-132)

    The Matter of Britain had a profound influence on the development of Portuguese literature. It can be said that Portuguese literary prose began with the translation of French romances, mainly those belonging to the Post-Vulgate Roman du Graal, into Galician-Portuguese.¹ The estimated date for these translations is the second half of the thirteenth century, assuming that King Afonso III of Portugal brought the fashion and the original romances from Burgundy, on his return to Portugal to claim the throne from his brother Sancho II, in 1345. Narrative strategies inherited from the Arthurian romances in translation were adopted by Fernão Lopes,...

  17. 12 The Lost Beginning of The Jeaste of Syr Gaweyne and the Collation of Bodleian Library MS Douce 261
    (pp. 133-142)

    The longest of the surviving copies of the text known as The Jeaste of Syr Gawayne but more logically titled simply Gaweyne¹ is the manuscript fragment of 541 lines that is contained on fols.15r–25v of Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 261.² Here it is preceded by The hystorye of the valyaunte knyght Syr Isenbras (fols. 1r–7v) and The tretyse of Syr Degore (fols. 8r–14v), and followed by Syr Eglamoure of Artoys (fols. 26r–48v), which carries the date 1564 within its large ornamental tailpiece. Like its formally exact counterpart, London, British Library MS Egerton 3132A,³ this little...

  18. 13 Enide’s See-through Dress
    (pp. 143-164)

    When Chrétien de Troyes wrote Erec et Enide in about 1180 his heroine did not have a see-through dress, but in less than ten years Enide had acquired one that she retained, in some quarters at least, for the next several centuries. Scribes and translators, and in recent times, editors and critics have all conspired, as decorously as possible, to make her attraction more visible. How much and what part of Enide can be seen is almost entirely in the mind, but it begins with the spelling and pronunciation of a single word, and indeed turns upon the presence of...

  19. 14 A Note on the Percy Folio Grene Knight
    (pp. 165-172)

    For a long time the Grene Knight in the Percy Folio manuscript did not excite much critical interest. The general view was that it is (a) of poor literary quality, and (and partly because) (b) it was simply derived from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – of which ‘it appears to be a condensed version … with none of the literary distinction that marks its model’, ‘evidently a debased and contaminated version of Gawain itself’, etc.¹ Recently, it has received more sympathetic treatment in the good editions of Diane Speed and Thomas Hahn, and in a perceptive short study by Gillian...

  20. 15 ‘False Friends’ in the Works of the Gawain-Poet
    (pp. 173-180)

    Studying the text of the Gawain-poet’s works in the many available editions occasionally makes one despair of the possibility of progress.¹ Some of the finest philological minds have pored over the textual cruces, hapax legomena and loci desperati of British Library, MS Cotton Nero A.x, but for the most part the old problems have refused to go away. Editors make up their minds, as they must, but often there are as many solutions as there are editions.

    A depressing example is Cleanness 433–4, lines which describe Noah’s Ark adrift on the seas:

    Al watʒ wasted þat þer wonyed þe...

  21. 16 Place-Names in The Awntyrs Off Arthure: Corruption, Conjecture, Coincidence
    (pp. 181-198)

    The mangled place-names in the 715 lines of The Awntyrs off Arthure are baffling in all four extant manuscripts. Surviving or recognizable place-names fall into four groups: (i) names of places in south-west Scotland claimed from Sir Gawain by the outsider, Galleron; (ii) names of places donated to Gawain in compensation when Galleron’s land is restored; (iii) names of places on the larger political map of Europe; (iv) names referring to the places in Cumberland where the action of the poem is set. The locations in group (iii) would be well known to the audience from the French wars. The...

  22. 17 Lancelot as Lover in the English Tradition before Malory
    (pp. 199-216)

    Much attention has been paid to Malory’s French sources and his use of them, not least by Peter Field in a series of meticulous essays.¹ Less attention has been paid to what Malory’s readers, and readers of earlier English Arthurian texts, may have known of such sources, and what they may or may not have expected in an Arthurian romance.² For readers today, mention of Lancelot immediately brings to mind his doomed love affair with Guenevere, but this does not always seem to have been the case in late medieval England. The first extended treatment of the affair in Middle...

  23. 18 Malory and Middle English Verse Romance: The Case of Sir Tristrem
    (pp. 217-222)

    Malory’s use of English metrical romances to supplement his French prose sources in compiling the Morte Darthur is well documented. The most striking example, of course, is his reworking of the anonymous alliterative Morte Arthure in ‘The Noble Tale of King Arthur and the Emperor Lucius’, but the case for his use of the stanzaic Middle English Le Morte Arthur alongside the French prose texts in the last two books of his Arthurian compilation is equally convincing.¹ Less attention has been paid to the possibility that Malory may have drawn upon the Middle English verse romance known as Sir Tristrem...

  24. 19 Sir Thomas Malory’s (French) Romance and (English) Chronicle
    (pp. 223-234)

    Although Malory cites his ‘Frensshe book’ as the source for what he tells us about the final destination of Lancelot’s knights, these details do not appear in his French sources or in any of the English ones either, and he is here trying, as he often does, to conceal his addition of information not in his sources, information that in this case may have been suggested by some non-Arthurian work, or that may, as Peter Field suggests, have had a biographical origin.² The quotation is of interest not just because it is an instance of Malory’s adding material to his...

  25. 20 Romantic Self-Fashioning: Three Case Studies
    (pp. 235-246)

    When a narrator sends a romance knight on a quest, he commits his hero not only to a journey but to a narrative-genre with whose conventions both knight and reader are familiar. Usually the experience will be comfortable for both, the product of a compact of author, narrator, characters, and reader, providing the hero with no opportunity for doubt, hesitation or self-questioning. But romance is at its most challenging when it scrutinizes its own conventions and confronts its characters with situations that expose the limitations of their seemingly secure codes. In this essay I want to contextualize key moments of...

  26. 21 Are Further Emendations Necessary? A Note on the Definite and Indefinite Articles in the Winchester Malory
    (pp. 247-252)

    The purpose of this short note is to present exhaustively the textual variants of the definite as against the indefinite articles that exist between the Winchester Malory (hereafter W)¹ and Caxton’s Malory (hereafter C).²

    First let me point out that the third edition (1990), revised by Professor P.J.C. Field, of Vinaver’s Works of Sir Thomas Malory (hereafter V–F)³ contains an emendation that is concerned with the variant readings referred to above, and which is not included in the previous editions. The passage in point reads: V–F ‘and [the] dwarffe ran by her syde’ 1212.29. The word in square...

  27. 22 Lucius’s Exhortation in Winchester and The Caxton
    (pp. 253-260)

    The Roman War section of Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur survives in two substantially different versions: the Winchester manuscript and William Caxton’s edition.¹ When Eugène Vinaver’s edition based on the Winchester manuscript first appeared, the academic world generally accepted his conclusion that William Caxton had edited and abridged Malory’s Roman War to make Book Five of the printed edition.² This theory was later challenged by William Matthews, who observed that some passages unique to Caxton’s edition appear to be based on Malory’s sources. He therefore concluded that the version preserved in the Caxton edition was Malory’s own revision. Although detailed...

  28. 23 The Historicity of Combat in Le Morte Darthur
    (pp. 261-270)

    As we all know, the identification of the Sir Thomas Malory who wrote Le Morte Darthur with Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel, Warwickshire, was for a time disputed. Professor Field’s own work has been instrumental in establishing that the evidence as we have it points firmly to the authorship of Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel, knight, thief, prison-breaker and – allegedly – rapist and attempted murderer. This Sir Thomas Malory was born between 1414 and 1418 and died in March 1471.¹ When he died, Malory was buried in Greyfriars Church, Newgate. His tombstone, made of marble, attests to his being...

  29. 24 Personal Weapons in Malory’s Le Morte Darthur
    (pp. 271-284)

    A close examination of Malory’s references to personal weapons in Le Morte Darthur¹ has two advantages. First, it can elucidate the actual nature of the weapons referred to, which are not now always common knowledge. Secondly, from a more general literary point of view a glance at the detail makes more vivid Malory’s characteristic manner. It shows him reliant on but very independent of sources, caring little for material detail, refusing to clutter up his text with realism. Despite the frequency of armed combat in his story, which is indeed essentially about combat, he is not interested in the technical...

  30. 25 ‘now I take uppon me the adventures to seke of holy thynges’: Lancelot and the Crisis of Arthurian Knighthood
    (pp. 285-296)

    The character of Lancelot in Le Morte Darthur is made up of different pieces of a puzzle, corresponding to the various sources Thomas Malory worked from. Malory’s Lancelot becomes the greatest knight at King Arthur’s court – a significant change in the English tradition of Arthurian romance, in which Gawain is prominent. It is also in the Morte that Lancelot’s failure in the Grail quest is counterbalanced by his success in the episode of ‘The Healing of Sir Urry’, a development clearly designed to redeem Malory’s favourite knight from the stain of adulterous sin and disloyalty to his king, and to...

  31. 26 Malory’s Language of Love
    (pp. 297-306)

    Malory is not a writer noted for his love scenes. His most moving encounters between men and women are not the moments familiar from other romances, when the man gazes on the woman and is struck by the arrow of the God of Love, or when the lovers overcome all obstacles to achieve a passionate meeting, but moments of parting or disaster: Lancelot and Guinevere taking leave of each other before he breaks out of her bedchamber through the ambush of armed men, or the scene in the nunnery when she refuses him a last kiss. His sex scenes are...

  32. 27 P.J.C. Field’s Worshipful Revision of Malory: Making a Virtue of Necessity
    (pp. 307-310)

    For Professor P.J.C. Field the necessity in revising Eugène Vinaver’s Winchester Malory was that of maintaining the essential character and physical format of that great edition.¹ Field’s success in overcoming the difficulty immediately catches the attention of every reader: revision is strictly confined to what is factual and the tremendous number of pages of Vinaver’s second edition (1759 pp.) is increased by only nine pages, despite Field’s vast number of alterations (2850 by Field’s own count) and occasional reductions (as in 40.12, 79.1, 795.30). What is less clear but of more importance is that the act of revision, though far-reaching...

  33. 28 ‘Old Sir Thomas Malory’s Enchanting Book’: A Connecticut Yankee Reads Le Morte Darthur
    (pp. 311-324)

    In Mark Twain’s satirical fantasy of time travel into a fictive Arthurian past, published in 1889, Malory’s Morte Darthur figures conspicuously. Malory’s style forms the staple of the language Twain invents for the inhabitants of his imaginary sixth century. Substantial passages of Malory’s text are also quoted whole at different points of the story, in various narrative guises. The first of these is under Malory’s own name, at the opening of the frame narrative. It forms the narrator’s bedtime reading as he sits by his hotel fireside after a visit to Warwick Castle, where he had met a mysterious stranger...

  34. P.J.C. Field: Publications
    (pp. 325-330)
  35. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 331-334)
  36. Tabula Gratulatoria
    (pp. 335-336)
  37. Back Matter
    (pp. 337-338)