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216 × 138 × 23 mm
224 pages
50 illustrations, 10 in colour
11 Feb 2019

Arthur God and Hero in Avalon Christopher R. Fee

For fifteen centuries, legends of King Arthur have inspired generations. In the misty past of a Britain under siege, half-remembered events became shrouded in ancient myth and folklore. The resulting tales were told and retold, until over time Arthur, Camelot, Avalon, the Round Table, the Holy Grail, Excalibur, Lancelot and Guinevere all became instantly recognizable icons. Along the way, Arthur’s life and times were recast in the mould of the hero’s journey: his miraculous conception at Tintagel through the magical intercession of his shaman guide, Merlin; the childhood deed of pulling the Sword from the Stone through which Arthur was anointed King; the Quest for the Holy Grail, the most sacred object in Christendom; the betrayal of Arthur by his wife and champion; and the apocalyptic battle between Good and Evil, ending with Arthur’s journey to the Otherworld.

Arthur: God and Hero in Avalon
views Arthur in terms of comparative mythology, and argues that the Once and Future King remains relevant because his story speaks so eloquently about universal human needs and anxieties. The book discusses the tales of King Arthur, from the very earliest versions to the most recent film and television adaptations, and offers readers an insight into why Arthur remains so popular.

‘Refreshingly accessible and expertly researched, Christopher R. Fee’s Arthur: God and Hero in Avalon is an adventure into myth and a tour through ancient history. This is an unparalleled introduction to the legendary and multifaceted King Arthur.’ — Andrew Cole, Professor of English and Medieval Studies, Princeton University

‘Professor Fee delivers a clear and welcome introduction to the sources, motifs, and backgrounds of the Arthurian cycles. From Marie de France to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur, Fee offers a terrific guide for students of all levels. Teachers will find this book extremely helpful for brushing up on Arthuriana.’ — Stephen Harris, Professor of English, University of Massachusetts

‘An accessible introduction to Arthuriana, or all things King Arthur . . . Fee situates Arthur within the larger backdrop of Welsh, Anglo-Saxon, and Celtic mythology. Subsequent chapters focus on objects such as Excalibur, the grail, and the round table, and on medieval treatments of the legend such as Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur . . . This book is a brief primer on Arthurian lore that is both interesting and readable.’ — Choice

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Christopher R. Fee is Professor of English at Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania, and the author of The Goddess: Myths of the Great Mother (Reaktion, 2016), Mythology in the Middle Ages: Heroic Tales of Monsters, Magic, and Might (2011) and Gods, Heroes, and Kings: The Battle for Mythic Britain (2001).

Preface: Who was King Arthur?
Introduction: Where was Avalon?

1 The Lost Gods of Avalon
2 Legendary Treasures of Avalon
3 Arthur Ascendant
4 The Once and Present King
Conclusion: Why does Arthur Abide?

Further Reading and Filmography