THIS WAS DRAWYN BY A KNYGHT PRESONER, SIR THOMAS MALLEORE, THAT GOD SENDE HYM GOOD RECOVER. In 1934, these were the lines which made the Librarian of Winchester College realize that he had discovered a hitherto unknown version of Sir Thomas Malorys Le Morte dArthur, a work known to all previous readers only through Caxtons 1485 edition. For it was known that Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel had been imprisoned on numerous occasions between the 1450s and his death in 1471 by Lancastrians and Yorkists. But who was Malory? Why did successive authorities want to lock him up? How did he come to write the Morte dArthur? And why has that text been so persistent a presence in English culture? Going in quest of Malory and of the meaning of the Morte the author addresses the texts central preoccupations violence, desire, and the nature of Englishness. Malory is placed in his social context, at a time of unprecedented national and regional unrest. Lustig traces the connections between writers and commentators from Tennyson to T.S. Eliot who have been fascinated by Malorys work.
A prime purpose of the volume is to reveal the Mortes extraordinary ability to move its readers intensely, to become part of their lives. Accordingly, the author delves into his own boyhood fascination with the stories of King Arthur, exploring their influence on him both then and now. The Morte dArthur was one of the last great literary works of the Middle Ages. But it was also one of the first to articulate a distinctively modern set of concerns particularly with the nature of identity, both personal and national. Knight Prisoner: Thomas Malory Then and Now will send readers back to Malorys work with renewed enjoyment and understanding.
T.J. Lustig is Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities at Keele University, where he teaches on the MA in Creative Writing. He is the author of a novel, Doubled Up (1990) and a critical monograph, Henry James and the Ghostly (1994). He has written critical articles on Mark Twain, Matthew Arnold and Tim OBrien.