Thanks for reading.
Paul Gadzikowski English 120 - Whitney October 7, 2005 Cultural Activity #1: Eliduc and Lancelot By Paul Gadzikowski The things that struck me on reading Marie de France's lais Eliduc were the similarities and contrasts between this story and the classic love triangle stories of Camelot. Marie de France was a contemporary of Chretien de Troyes, author of the oldest work known containing the character Lancelot. Lancelot, like Eliduc, is a knight of wide renown for his prowess and honor and, like Eliduc, has his life torn apart by a passion outside the bounds of the laws of man. But everything works out for Eliduc and his new girl, while Lancelot ends up blamed for the fall of a great kingdom. Another difference between them is the amount of subsequent treatment since the twelfth century. Eliduc seems to owe his place in literature solely to Marie de France but Lancelot's love for Queen Guenevere has been reworked more and more often as time goes by. In the so-called Old French Vulgate cycle of Arthurian epic, c. 1250, Lancelot's sin is blamed for his failure to achieve the Holy Grail quest and for the fall of the kingdom, when Arthur - portrayed in those times as not a little foggy-minded and foolish - discovers the affair. In Le Morte d'Arthur, c. 1470, Lancelot and Guenevere are portrayed more sympathetically, often called "true" (actually "trew" I think) lovers despite the technicality of extramarital adultery; and Arthur, while not explicitly complicit, acknowledges the affair only when the story's villains make it legally impossible for him to ignore it. In The Once and Future King, c. 1940, and the movie Camelot based on it, 1967, Lancelot and Guenevere love Arthur almost as much as each other, and he them, willingly turning a blind eye to the affair. Surely not until modern times could a character in such a personally painful position maintain so compassionate, open-hearted, progressive an attitude to those who betray him, even those he loves best himself. Yet, in Eliduc, the betrayed wife responds to the situation with the merest token regret for her own loss, and from then on acts with efficiency and inspiration to get her husband and his mistress to set up housekeeping and to put herself into orders out of the way, motivated by the love she still holds for her husband. Through their subsequent lives they remain on such good terms with each other and God that when Eliduc dies the second wife joins the first wife in the nunnery and the approval of God for the entire business is evoked. All this, in a work contemporary to the very creation of the Lancelot character. Fascinating.
Arthuriana sources I use or recommend:
Arthuriana - the Journal of Arthurian Studies; the website of the quarterly journal of the North American Branch of the International Arthurian Society.
The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester.
Camelot In Four Colors: A Survey of the Arthurian Legend in Comics
Mystical-WWW - The Arthurian A2Z knowledge Bank which has encyclopedically-arranged entries on the characters of the Arthurian legends.
Le Morte Darthur: Sir Thomas Malory's Book of King Arthur and of his Noble Knights of the Round Table, Volume 1 and Volume 2.