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Carlos García Gual

The return to Camelot. Arthurian legend and the romanticism of the Victorian age URL: http://www.march.es/conferencias/anteriores/voz.aspx?p1=22876&l=2

Who could have foreseen the resurrection of the cult to King Arthur and his knights in the prosaic mercantile middle class of Kensington in the Victorian era? Who could have imagined that the Widowed Queen would listen with rapture the plaintive voice of the official poet of the court singing the deeds of Lancelot and his love with Geneva? As J.H. Plumb would write (in his book The Death Of The Past), the longing of Victorian England for recovering the medieval and mythical world of courteous and knightly Camelot was a historical phenomenon extremely surprising. Medieval castles, tournaments, armor, emblems and knightly manners became fashionable again in notorious contrast to the dominant bourgeois tendency and rapid and overwhelming modernity of the nineteenth-century England, the most prosperous nation due to its industrial and commercial progress. What a strange longing of a fantastic and medieval past, which with an impressive success fostered the most famous writers and artists! Walter Scott with is novels. L.A. Tennyson with his melancholic Idylls of the King, the PreRaphaelian painters, and the Neogothic architecture in fashion, all evoked the splendor of the ancient Camelot, and the elegant courtiers simulating "chivalrous gentlemen" of a new knightly empire. Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory was still and emotive and popular reading. In his tomb, prince Albert lied covered by a medieval armor equivalent to the Black Prince.

Remembering that ghostly evocation, so British and full of modernity, of the fabulous knightly universe, in nostalgia and twilight homage, can invite, I believe, to some reflections about the strange fascinations of the literary tradition. 

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