Writing War in Postmedieval British Arthurian Literature
'Writing War in Postmedieval British Arthurian Literature',
Professor Andrew Lynch, Western Australia University, President, International Arthurian Society
This lecture reflects on how modern English literary engagements with Arthurian tradition, from Spenser to Ishiguro, have negotiated the matter of war. Reading this literature for its take on war tells a story, not of the decline and revival of an original ideal, but of continuing transformation under changing conditions that have both evoked and enabled new responses. The postmedieval decline of Arthur’s wars as credible history made them a more adaptable subject for contemporary applications. Amongst these treatments, satiric and critical appropriations are as significant as positive and idealist versions. Together, they show that the matter of war, more than anything else, has made Arthur’s story provoke the attention of succeeding eras and remain connected to lived experience.