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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

This fault has been exaggerated


Sometimes _de_, but _a_ seems more analogical.

[23] Chrestien was rather like Chaucer in being apt not to finish. Even the _Charette_ owes its completion (in an extent not exactly determinable) to a certain Godfrey de Lagny (Laigny, etc.).

[24] Of course it is easy enough to assign explanations of it, from the vehicle of criminals to the scaffold downwards; but it remains a convention--very much of the same kind as that which ordains (or used to ordain) that a gentleman may not carry a parcel done up in newspaper, though no other form of wrapping really stains his honour.

[25] Neither he nor Malory gives one of the most gracious parts of it--the interview between Lancelot and King Bagdemagus, _v. inf._ p. 54.

[26] Material (chamois skin)? or garment? Not common in O.F., I think, for _camisia_; but Spenser (_Faerie Queene_, II. iii. xxvi.) has (as Prof. Gregory Smith reminds me) "a silken _camus_ lilly whight."

[27] As does Pyramus's--or Bottom's--objection to the wall.

[28] This part of the matter has received too little attention in modern studies of the subject: partly because it was clumsily handled by some of the probably innumerable and certainly undiscoverable meddlers with the Vulgate. The unpopularity of Lancelot and his kin is not due merely to his invincibility

and their not always discreet partisanship. The older "Queen's knights" must have naturally felt her devotion to him; his "undependableness"--in consequence not merely of his fits of madness but of his chivalrously permissible but very inconvenient habit of disguising himself and taking the other side--must have annoyed the whole Table. Yet these very things, properly managed, help to create and complicate the "novel" character. For one of the most commonly and not the least justly charged faults of the average romance is its deficiency in combined plot and character-interest--the presence in it, at most, of a not too well-jointed series of episodes, possibly leading to a death or a marriage, but of little more than chronicle type. This fault has been exaggerated, but it exists. Now it will be one main purpose of the pages which follow to show that there is, in the completed Arthuriad, something quite different from and far beyond this--something perhaps imperfectly realised by any one writer, and overlaid and disarranged by the interpolations or misinterpretations of others, but still a "mind" at work that keeps the "mass" alive, and may, or rather surely will, quicken it yet further and into higher forms hereafter. (Those who know will not, I hope, be insulted if I mention for the benefit of those who do not, that the term "Vulgate" is applied to those forms of the parts of the story which, with slighter or more important variations, are common to many MSS. The term itself is most specially applied to the _Lancelot_ which, in consequence of this popularity throughout the later Middle Ages, actually got itself printed early in the French Renaissance. The whole has been (or is being) at last most fortunately reprinted by Dr. Sommer. See Bibliography.)

[29] This is another point which, not, I suppose, having been clearly and completely evolved by the first handler, got messed and muddled by successive copyists

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