In accordance with our meta agreement to have topic challenges and a later meta agreement to have topic challenges lasting for two months and overlapping by one month, it is time to announce the March–April 2022 topic challenge.
Based on the number of votes (+5), the next topic challenge of the year 2022 will be
medieval Arthurian literature
What's a topic challenge?
See the meta posts linked above, and also this main Meta post. In short, during March and April 2022 you are invited to try to read at least one Arthurian tale from the medieval era and ask questions about it.
Participation is not obligatory in any sense, and questions on other works are more than welcome during March and April too; they just won't count as part of this topic challenge.
How can I take part?
By getting hold of some works of medieval Arthurian literature and asking (or answering!) good questions about them. Questions about these works should be tagged with a tag for the author, a tag for the language if it wasn't originally in English, and (for book-length works) a tag for the work's title. We'll keep a list of all such questions in an answer to this meta post.
From Gildas to Malory, many writers in the sixth through the 15th centuries shaped the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Arthurian stories were written in a wide range of languages:
- Latin (Historia Regum Brittaniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth)
- Middle English (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)
- Welsh (The Mabinogion)
- German (Parzival by Tungsten von Eschenbach)
- French (The Lais of Marie de France)
- Modern English (Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory)
and others such as Dutch, Norse, Icelandic, Hebrew, Greek, Breton, Italian, and Catalan. A list is available at Wikipedia's Bibliography of King Arthur page.
The books are fascinating to read for both the stories they tell and what they reveal about their own times. English translations are also easily available online. Cursory Googling found these in less than a minute:
- Aaron Thompson's translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth at York University
- Judy Shoaf's translation of Marie de France at the University of Florida
- W. W. Comfort's 1963 translation of four of Chrétien de Troyes' French romances at Project Gutenberg
- A remarkably well done translation of the first four branches of The Mabinogion at mabinogi.net
- J.R.R. Tolkien's translaton of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Many Arthurian texts, or excerpts from them, are available at The Camelot Project, as are some scholarly resources. Print editions of many of the books are readily available in reasonably priced editions.
Musicals like Spamalot and books like Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant attest to the enduring popularity of the Arthurian legend even in our times. But the stories originate in the medieval Matter of Britain, and it would be good to revisit that fountainhead.
- Vote for the next topic challenge (April–May), or propose your own topic!