Merry Christmas from the World of Literature

King Arthur lay, at Camelot upon a Christmas-tide, with many a gallant lord and lovely lady, and all the noble brotherhood of the Round Table. There they held rich revels with gay talk and jest; one while they would ride forth to joust and tourney, and again back to the court to make carols; for … Continue reading Merry Christmas from the World of Literature

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Heroes of Old: Alexander the Great

You may recall how I thought one of the more exciting parts of The Habitation of the Blessed—Catherynne Valente’s reworking of the legends of Prester John’s magical kingdom deep in central Asia—was how she worked in a legend regarding Alexander the Great building a massive wall to imprison the evil giants Gog and Magog. As … Continue reading Heroes of Old: Alexander the Great

Ruminations on “Beowulf”, Treasure, and Generosity

Hwæt! Today, I feel like talking about Beowulf. One of the most fascinating aspects of Beowulf is that it is essentially a pagan heroic epic, yet it was written by a Christian for a Christian audience.  Naturally, there is an unmistakable contrast between the pagan themes inherent in the story and the Christian themes that … Continue reading Ruminations on “Beowulf”, Treasure, and Generosity

Musings on “The Mabinogi”: Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed

Recently I finished reading the cycle of Welsh tales commonly mis-called The Mabinogion, but which is properly called the Mabinogi. Full of strange wonders and bold figures, they have influenced many other legends and authors for centuries. They’re also bewildering, nonsensical, and outright deranged. (But they’re also “culture,” so you get to pat yourself on … Continue reading Musings on “The Mabinogi”: Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed

Heroes of Old: Arrow-Odd

I’m adapting and expanding this article from one that I originally posted on my old Xanga site back in April 2010. Because of this, it doesn’t really follow the format I established in my previous post about the Cid of discussing first the source material, then the historical background, and finally the hero himself. This … Continue reading Heroes of Old: Arrow-Odd

Heroes of Old: The Cid

The literature of ages past has given us many iconic heroes, whose feats and fame have defined for us what it means for a human to be extraordinary. Some were historical, some purely imaginative, and still others combined qualities of both. Hercules, Beowulf, Arthur, Cú Chulainn, Arrow-Odd – all of them admired for possessing certain … Continue reading Heroes of Old: The Cid

Book Meme Day 25: A Character To Whom You Can Relate

I nearly gave up on this post. The difficulty of finding an answer for this meme topic distressed me. For a bibliophile to be faced with an inability to choose a single literary character he very much relates to is a troubling concept, for is that not one of the highest purposes of stories, to … Continue reading Book Meme Day 25: A Character To Whom You Can Relate

Book Meme Day 10: Favorite Classic Book

Well that’s just not fair. First I had to define “best,” and now I have to define “classic?” You ask the impossible! Scholars and educators have debated this question for ages, with only a vague consensus on what is called the Western Canon. Wikipedia declares “A classic book is a book accepted as being exemplary … Continue reading Book Meme Day 10: Favorite Classic Book

Easter Sunday – Anglo-Saxon Poetry Review: “The Dream of the Rood”

Title: “The Dream of the Rood” Author: Anonymous 8th century Anglo-Saxon, likely a member of a religious house. Length: 158 lines Synopsis: The nameless narrator dreams of the Cross (or “Rood,” for the archaic term) on which Christ was crucified. The Cross, finding its voice, relates to him the experience of the Crucifixion, and how … Continue reading Easter Sunday – Anglo-Saxon Poetry Review: “The Dream of the Rood”