Thesis Exorcism

And here’s another short thought before I go back to pretending to going back to working on my thesis. It’s a paragraph that doesn’t belong in my thesis, but I keep typing and revising because it’s more fun trying to think up bizarre analogies than it is to figure out why Geoffrey of Monmouth can’t keep Arthur’s sister and aunt straight.

You can consider this my long lost review of the 2004 King Arthur movie, if you want.

There is no such thing as a “real” or historical King Arthur, and anyone who tries to convince you that there was is probably going to try to steer the conversation towards selling you a commemorative silver-plated pewter letter opener shaped like the heroic king’s famed sword Excalibur, the perfect gift for any collector of fine things. The problem with looking for the “real” King Arthur is that the word “real” in that construction actually has no meaning. It’s a hollow signifier. Suppose I made a movie called “The Teddy Bear that Ate Cleveland.” If someone were to point out that the teddy bear was originally named after U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, it still wouldn’t be very sensible to go around saying, “Ah, so the real Teddy Bear that Ate Cleveland was Theodore Roosevelt.” But that sort of thing is all you’re going to end up with if you go looking for the “real” King Arthur.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled lack of regular updates to my blog.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lady

    THANK YOU. Since taking an undergraduate Arthurian subject/setting out on the long, lonely path to becoming a mediaevalist, this is the question that I get asked all the freaking time. Unfortunately nobody wants the proper answer. They want to know that the real King Arthur looked like Richard Harris or Clive Owen.

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