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Old 10-24-2005, 02:49 AM   #1
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You know what I can't stand in literature? (and also my medieval lit paper)

Paragons of virtue. These superidealized perfect bastards that oversimplify the issues of a much more complex work. Though I'm not a huge fan of James Fennimore Cooper to begin with, I'd be much happier if the Leatherskin novels didn't actually feature Natty Bumppo. I know that sounds a little ridiculous, but humor me. The guy is the combination of Native American respect for nature and resourcefulness, but with none of the danger. Essentially, the noble savage stereotype instead of the bloodthirsty stereotype. But what makes it worse is that he seems to be this way because he is tempered with European American sensibilities. The only questionable thing he does in the entirety of The Pioneers is defy an UNJUST law. Doesn't he have any real flaws other than a hint of pride? Come on now.

Same thing with Galahad in Arthurian Literature. He's a bastard son born of deception that was meant to mirror an adulterous affair to begin with. Everywhere else in the Arthurian canon we see plenty of sinful inheritance. But no, not with Galahad. Yes, there is the argument that Galahad is what Lancelot could have been... but damn it, he not only achieves the grail... he ascends to heaven! Sheesh.

I just wanted to rant because I'm writing a paper for Medieval Lit right now (and recently read Cooper for Senior Seminar: American Romantics). And I'm writing about the downfall of Camelot, and basically arguing that the dangers presented to the kingdom come not from simply fornication, but adultery and the breaking of vows. After all, Igraine sleeps with Uther, but gives birth to Arthur: This is a good thing. But as far as she knows, she is sleeping with her husband. Neither Lancelot or Elaine is married, even though Lancelot believes her to be Guinevere. Both affairs involve mystical deception. Yet Arthur and Galahad are the results... huh?

And then on the other hand we have Arthur banging his sister unknowingly... incest is bad, but it's worse because what he does know is that she is married. Same thing with Lancelot and Guinevere. The first affair gives existence to Mordred, the second gives him the means to seize power. Both are examples of broken vows... okay, I'm done ranting now. I need to get back to actually writing the paper... oh, and you've got to love the title:

Of Lancelot's Loins: Love and Lust in the Downfall of Camelot
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Old 10-24-2005, 03:18 AM   #2
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So what are you going to do with all this later in life?
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Old 10-24-2005, 03:59 AM   #3
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Continue teaching others who will be asked the same question
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Old 10-24-2005, 04:09 AM   #4
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After roughly 3 days straight of research, my Shakespeare paper is narrowed down to how his Troilus and Cressida is about the death of chivalry--and he adapts a poem of chivalrous love to deliberately corrupt it...and how it reflects the corruption and slow death of the Elizabethan era. (And how Elizabeth's court was built on phony and outdated chivalric concepts)

Mixed with this, somehow, is the homoeroticism between all the male characters and how it overrides the love affair. The most passionate and sexual comments are not between Troilus and Cressida, but between Hector and Achilles.

I think that works with the death of chivalry too...the corruption leads to male characters desiring each other, and yet, this is portrayed rather positively--we all know your in love with Polyxena, Achilles, but you'd be more manly if you "threw down" Hector instead. wink wink, nudge nudge. Hmm. That's the part I haven't worked out yet.

I better get an A.

I'm taking Medieval Lit next semester.
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Old 10-24-2005, 04:18 AM   #5
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I don't know that I've ever actually read or seen Troilus and Cressida. I've read Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde (sp?) and enjoyed it to a degree... but I'm one of those who thinks that chivalry was a hoax anyway, and since courtly love was suggested by the chivalric code, and since courtly love is inherently adulterous the moment it goes beyond distant adoration... you get the idea. The only real incident of courtly love not undermining chivalry I can think of is in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and in that case it comes down to Gawain doing a greater service to Bertilak's wife by protecting her life than sleeping with her, as was her desire.
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Old 10-24-2005, 10:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by UnforgettableLemon
I don't know that I've ever actually read or seen Troilus and Cressida. I've read Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde (sp?) and enjoyed it to a degree... but I'm one of those who thinks that chivalry was a hoax anyway, and since courtly love was suggested by the chivalric code, and since courtly love is inherently adulterous the moment it goes beyond distant adoration... you get the idea. The only real incident of courtly love not undermining chivalry I can think of is in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and in that case it comes down to Gawain doing a greater service to Bertilak's wife by protecting her life than sleeping with her, as was her desire.



I double majored in college (Medieval Literature was the unbrella major): Shakespeare and Chaucer.

I wrote my thesis on Troilus and Criseyde....its 218 pages long if you'd like to read it.
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Old 10-24-2005, 10:26 AM   #7
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I guess I wouldn't take such a harsh look at literature. Look at it this way: in the 1950s, their television was good enough to please the masses; but nowadays, we'd find it contrived and oversimplistic. Now apply that principle over thousands of years of literature and you'll see why most people cannot stomach ancient texts or classic literature. Each subsequent generation has higher expectations than the previous, and I'm sure that if the Bible were being written today, it would be a lot more descriptive and flashy.

Literature is also a good measure of cultural philosophy. Present-day postmodern literature would certainly be a far cry from the rather straight-forward idealized and moralistic literature of the old days.

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Old 10-24-2005, 09:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
I guess I wouldn't take such a harsh look at literature. Look at it this way: in the 1950s, their television was good enough to please the masses; but nowadays, we'd find it contrived and oversimplistic. Now apply that principle over thousands of years of literature and you'll see why most people cannot stomach ancient texts or classic literature. Each subsequent generation has higher expectations than the previous, and I'm sure that if the Bible were being written today, it would be a lot more descriptive and flashy.

Literature is also a good measure of cultural philosophy. Present-day postmodern literature would certainly be a far cry from the rather straight-forward idealized and moralistic literature of the old days.

Melon
Yeah, don't get me wrong... Morte Darthur is probably still my favorite book of all time, and I know that expectations change. But Galahad is mindnumbingly out of place in Le Morte D'Arthur, I think he's mostly just there to show what Lancelot could have been. And Cooper was only a few decades ahead of Poe and Hawthorne, neither of whom wrote truly one-dimensional characters.
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Old 10-25-2005, 12:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by UnforgettableLemon
Yeah, don't get me wrong... Morte Darthur is probably still my favorite book of all time, and I know that expectations change. But Galahad is mindnumbingly out of place in Le Morte D'Arthur, I think he's mostly just there to show what Lancelot could have been. And Cooper was only a few decades ahead of Poe and Hawthorne, neither of whom wrote truly one-dimensional characters.
The funny thing about medieval literature is that anything that survived the Middle Ages is going to be considered "classic." But I'm sure they had their share of garbage literature like we do now. I mean, look at all the pointless sequels that modern society churns out?

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Old 10-25-2005, 12:56 AM   #10
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