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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

51 Ywain suggests one of the commonest things in Romance


The early _Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere_, though only external, is perfect. Many touches in the _Idylls_ other than the title-one are suitable and even subtle; but the convertite in that one is (as they say now) "unconvincing." The simpler attitude of the rejection of Lancelot in the verse _Morte_ and in Malory is infinitely better. As for Morris's two pieces, they could hardly be better in themselves as poems--but they are scarcely great on the novel side.

[37] Disagreeable, that is to say, as a sister and sister-in-law. There must have been something attractive about her in other relations.

[38] Compare one of the not so very many real examples of Ibsen's vaunted psychology, the placid indifference to her own past of Gina in the _Wild Duck_.

[39] He had said that if he were a woman he would give Lancelot anything he asked; and the Queen, following, observes that Gawain had left nothing for a woman to say.

[40] _Nos passions ont quelque chose d'infini_, says Bossuet.

[41] [Greek: helandros, heleptolis]. She had no opportunity of being [Greek: helenaus].

[42] Hawker's security as to Cornish men and things is, I admit, a little Bardolphian. But did he not write about the Quest? (This sort of argument simply swarms in Arthurian controversy; so I may surely use it once.)

Besides there is no doubt about the blueness of the sea in question; though Anthony Trollope, in _Malachi's Cove_, has most falsely and incomprehensibly denied it.

[43] That this is a real sign of decadence and unoriginality, the further exaggeration of it in the case of the knights of the _Amadis_ cycle proves almost to demonstration.

[44] After the opening sentence I have dropped the historic present, which, for a continuance, is very irritating in English.

[45] Lancelot himself has told us earlier (_op. cit._ i. 38) that, though he neither knew nor thought himself to be a king's son, he was commonly addressed as such.

[46] Lionel (very young at the time) had wept because some one mentioned the loss of his inheritance, and Lancelot (young as he too was) had bidden him not cry for fear of landlessness. "There would be plenty for him, if he had heart to gain it."

[47] This technical title is usually if not invariably given to Ywain and Gawain as eldest sons of recognised kings. "Prince" is not used in this sense by the older Romancers, but only for distinguished knights like Galahault, who is really a king.

[48] There is one admirable word here, _enbarnis_, which has so long been lost to French that it is not even in Littre. But Dryden's "_burnish_ into man" probably preserves it in English; for this is certainly not the other "burnish" from _brunir_.

[49] "Car moult en parole diroit la parole."

[50] Puzzled by the number of new thoughts and emotions.

[51] Ywain suggests one of the commonest things in Romance.

[52] Arthur had, by a set of chances, not actually girded on Lancelot's sword.

[53] Whose prisoner Lancelot had been, who had been ready to fall in love with him, and to whom he had expressly refused to tell his own love. Hence his confusion.

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