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Book Reviews Norris J. Lacy, ed. T he A rthurian E ncyclopedia. New York: Garland, 1986. Pp. xxxvii + 649. Ninety-four contributors (including the five editors) have combined their efforts to pro­ duce a superb research tool for scholars as well as interesting, accessible reading for the Arthuriana enthusiast. The more than 650 entries include most aspects of the Arthurian tradition, both medieval and modern: chronicles, history, tapestries, film, art, music, archaeology, historical sites, themes, motifs, objects, literary texts from the twelfth century to the present. The geographical range of influence of the Arthurian tradition as demon­ strated by the number of languages in which references and texts exist is astonishing: of course, English, French, and German, but also, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Provençal, Catalan, Japanese, Latin, Celtic, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Scandinavian, Dutch, Tagalog, Yiddish. Forty-nine illustrations including photos of sites associated with the tradition, manuscript illuminations, drawings of Saxon and British arms and armor, and reproduc­ tions of paintings depicting scenes from Arthurian novels provide a visual dimension that enriches the presentation of the material. As would be expected in a work of this type, a large number of the entries consist of concise and informative essays that identify places, objects, or characters in the context of the Arthurian tradition. In addition, however, there are extended essays that treat par­ ticular authors or texts as well as broad overviews of certain subjects. For example, the con­ siderable literary contribution of Chrétien de Troyes in the twelfth century receives exten­ sive attention. However, there is also a substantive essay on “French Arthurian Literature” that provides a context for Chrétien and, at the same time, delineates the evolution of the Arthurian tradition in France from the Middle Ages to the present. Most entries include a few bibliographical references with a necessarily brief bibliography at the beginning of the volume, thus providing the initial tools for further research on any of the subjects. While the medieval aspects and sources of the tradition are thoroughly and carefully covered, the accounts of modern adaptations demonstrate the durability and fascination of the legend among peoples of many nations for over 1500 years. The nineteenth-century romantic passion for things medieval caused a rebirth of interest in Arthur that resulted in an explosion of artistic activity that produced many masterpieces such as Wagner’sParsifal and Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Contemporary audiences continue to delight in retell­ ings of the old tales, particularly in popular novels such as those of T. H. White and Mary Stewart and, of course, in films such as Excalibur and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, to give only a very few examples from genres that provide wide and varied appeal. The editors have succeeded in making the large amount of information found in this excellent work accessible by including in the introduction a “List of Entries Arranged by Category.” In addition, the entries are thoroughly cross-referenced. The special contribu­ tion of this encyclopedia lies in the fact that it is not only comprehensive in its scope but critical in its approach, so that the scholar or enthusiast is not simply bombarded with fact after fact but is provided with a context in which to appreciate the information. D eborah H. N elson Rice University VOL. XXIX, NO. 3 111 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
p. 111
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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