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Sir Marrok: A Tale of the Days of King Arthur

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French, Allen. Sir Marrok: A Tale of the Days of King Arthur. New York: Century, 1902.

The author notes that 'a single sentence' in Malory's Morte d'Arthur suggested this story. In the list of knights who attempt the healing of Sir Urry, Malory includes 'sir Marrok the good knight that was betrayed with his wyff, for he made hym seven yere a warwolff.' Like many authors, French uses Malory to tell a tale that goes far beyond the plot and the characters that Malory suggests. French's Marrok is an honorable knight who serves first Uther and then Arthur. For the former, he drives robbers, witches and warlocks, and wolves from Bedgraine and then becomes its lord. When he joins Arthur in his continental wars, he designates Irma, a learned woman, to govern them. But she is 'of the council of Morgan le Fay' and proves to be a self-serving ruler who turns the land back to its former savagery. When Marrok returns, Irma uses a spell to turn him into a wolf. But even in this form he does all he can to restore order by slaying wolves, driving off witches and warlocks, and battling robbers. Ultimately, he enters his former castle, makes his way to Irma's room, and destroys the talisman that binds him in a wolf's form. To save herself, she drinks a potion she intended for Marrok's son and is turned into an owl. One interesting feature of the novel is that the author claims that the story of Marrok was told in a lost chronicle, which was the basis for the 'Lay of Sir Marrok,' the purported source of this account.


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