Please join us online via Zoom as Mark Schenker takes us through Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King” a Victorian take on the medieval Arthurian legends.
In the early 19th century, the rise of Romanticism in Europe generally, and in England in particular, led to a renewed interest in medievalism. Consequences of this resurgence persisted into the Victorian Period and included the revival of the Gothic in architecture and of Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic thinking in philosophy and religion.
A nationalistic figure from the Middle Ages, King Arthur—who may or may not have been historical—was the subject of treatments by 19th-century writers as diverse as Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Mark Twain. Earlier, the 12th-century Geoffrey of Monmouth, writing in Latin, placed Arthur in the tradition of British kings, relying more on his own imagination than on historical sources. In the same century the French poet Chrétien de Troyes introduced the important themes of the Holy Grail, the court of Camelot, and the adulterous affair between Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere.
In the 15th century, Thomas Malory wrote “Le Morte D’Arthur” in Middle English prose while drawing mainly on French sources. Its publication in 1485 made it one of the first books ever to be printed in England. It was this work that Tennyson used when he published his “Idylls of the King,” 12 tales of Arthur and his knights, written in verse and published from 1859 to 1885.
Mark Schenker will present a program in six sessions on Tennyson’s “Idylls” with reference also to the source tales found in Malory’s text. Participants will read all 12 of Tennyson’s narrative poems and will be directed to read, if they care to, the corresponding stories in Malory, available online. Mark will emphasize connections and contrasts, and will place Tennyson’s work in its Victorian context.
No charge for the program. These lectures are made possible with the support of the Literary Series in Memory of Amy Quigley. Advance registration required. Register online or call 203-762-6334. You will automatically be registered for all six sessions. Please email Michael Bellacosa at email@example.com with any questions.
Mark J. Schenker, having served in various decanal roles in Yale College since 1990, retired last year. A former lecturer in the English Department, he received his Ph.D. from Columbia University with a concentration in 19th-century and early 20th-century English Literature. He had taught previously at Columbia, New York University, and Trinity College (Hartford, CT). Outside of academia, Mark has for over 35 years lectured on literature and film, and has led book discussion series in more than 100 venues in Connecticut, including public libraries, museums, and cultural centers. He also conducts monthly sessions for a number of private reading groups in the state. In 2001, he received the Wilbur Cross Award for Outstanding Humanities Scholar, presented by the Connecticut Humanities Council.
Event Type(s): Literature Program
Age Group(s): Adults