Essay on The Many Versions of The Legend of King Arthur

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The Many Versions of The Legend of King Arthur

There are countless versions of the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. Most English versions are based on Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, but where did these tales originate, and what different interpretations are there today? This essay seeks to examine the roots and different renditions of the various legends circulating today. The first section deals with the origins of the legend. The second section speculates on who the "real" King Arthur could have been. A comparison of several different versions, and suggestions of why they differ are given in the third section, and the conclusion presents an analysis on the ambiguity of the legend.
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He was also the first to use the name "Camelot" for Arthur's headquarters, and it was he who first told us of the Grail, though he didn't associate any religious meaning to it (It was Robert de Boron who is responsible for transforming the grail into a holy symbol, in 1210). He was "the first to supply the literary form of the romance, to the transmission of the stories of Arthur." (Britannia web page) In the early 13th century, the Vulgate Cycle is written, changing the stories from verse to prose. The material begins to take on more historical and religious overtones, and here the idea that Mordred is the incestuous son ofArthur is introduced (David Nash Ford web page). In the 15th century, Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte de Arthur is published. It is "the definitive English Athurian romance" (Britannia web page), and "With one stroke of his pen, he transformed Arthur's Court from Dark Age obscurity to the height of middle age pageantry" (David Nash Ford web page). It is on this book that many of the modern versions are based, but by this time, it is mainly a work of literature, and there is little history left amongst his pages. From these roots, many famous poets and writers have been inspired. William Blake, Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Matthew Arnold Alfred Lord Tennyson, Mark Twain, Thomas Hardy, C.S.Lewis, John Steinbeck, Mary Stuart, and many, many more According to Geoffrey
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