Arthurian Literature–II

Curdy, A. E.

Mention has already been made of the rapid decrease in the number of writers and versions in the seventeenth century—the period, indeed, in which the lowest point of Arthurian production was reached. This sudden decline in interest is amazing, and there is no direct testimony as to the cause. The suggestion has been made, that the intellectual struggles of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are accountable for this state of affairs. Possibly there were other reasons, which do not appear. The attention of the literary world was strongly drawn toward the drama during this century, and the whole subject of the construction of stage productions was fought out with a vehemence that left nothing to the imagination. As a result of this interest in the stage we find that Arthurian subjects appear for the first time in dramatic form, but in a very small number of cases. The first piece was that of John Dryden, King Arthur, or The British Worthy, which was acted and published; then Desmarres wrote La Dragonne, ou Merlin Dragon. Francis Bacon wrote The Misfortunes of Arthur, a drama based on Malory’s Morte d’Arthur. There were redactions and alterations in the following century and these probably gave the impulse for dramatic handling of the various subjects of the Arthurian tradition.

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Romanic Review

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French and Romance Philology
Columbia University Press
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July 15, 2015


Source: / Bibliothèque nationale de France