Guenevere in the Nunnery: Nineteenth-Century Literature and Art
'Guenevere in the Nunnery: Nineteenth-Century Literature and Art',
Dr Alan Lupack, University of Rochester
Authors from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century have told of Guinevere’s retreat to a nunnery near the end of Arthur’s reign. While Medieval accounts sometimes included a final meeting between Lancelot and Guinevere, it was not until the nineteenth century that the dramatic possibilities of a meeting between Arthur and his queen were recognized. In his “Guinevere” idyll, Tennyson describes a visit by Arthur to the nunnery, where Guinevere grovels at his feet. This controversial scene became familiar and was repeatedly depicted in literature and art. It also led to an examination of the relationship between Arthur and Guinevere, with some authors presenting the nunnery scene with a dynamic very different from that found in the Idylls.