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How to be a man: Malory and the moral paradox
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Arts, Communication and Education, Education, Language, and Teaching.
2011 (English)In: Essays In Medieval Studies, ISSN 1043-2213, E-ISSN 1538-4608, Vol. 27, p. 105-115Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Sir Thomas Malory, author of the 15th century Le Morte Darthur, stood accused of rape and burglary of a monastery. ‘The moral paradox’ of a criminal author and a pious and chivalric book has troubled 19th and 20th century critics deeply, but the desire for a match between the morals of the man and those which critics find in his book has proved to be oddly resilient to developments in literary theory during the 20th century, from New Criticism’s ‘intentional fallacy’ to Barthes’ and Foucault’s death of the author. Rather than letting Malory the potential rapist and robber go, critics insist there cannot be a division between the man and his book in terms of morality.This article investigates the reasons for and consequences of the reluctance on the part of the critics to view Malory as anything but fundamentally one with his book. The absolute truth value of the fictional text, Le Morte, is seen to override historical documents, alter certain biographical accounts and create others. Above all, it forces critics to formulate theories of authorship, wrestling with a tension between ideas of medieval textual production and Malory as a Romantic genius. Eugène Vinaver, the editor of The Works of Sir Thomas Malory, builds one of the most elaborate and complicated theories of how the internal creative genius overtakes the personality and skill of the rough, non-intellectual Englishman in his transformation of the sophisticated French sources into something new and valuable. This article examines how ideas of nationality, religion and creativity have steered the theories of authorship which underpin the critical assessment of Le Morte Darthur and its problematic author.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 27, p. 105-115
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
English, Specialization in Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-5555DOI: 10.1353/ems.2011.0002Local ID: 3ae7a476-8ac4-4b00-b5e2-6dbd27bb7e38OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-5555DiVA: diva2:978429
Note
Validerad; 2012; 20121212 (walmar)Available from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29 Last updated: 2017-11-24Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
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  • vancouver
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Language
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  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
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