posted by [identity profile] lalaithlockhart.livejournal.com at 04:43am on 07/08/2011
Sorry for not replying above - your comment was so impressive that I realized I didn't have anything useful to add! But The King Must Die at least, has stuck with me ever since you recommended it - and a lot of what I remember about it has to do with the main character, and with the presentation of - as you say - a very alien but naturalized culture, and with the interweaving of half-remembered Theseus myths with a possible history that - at the time - was very eye-opening. I felt like I was learning about real (or at least, realistic) cultures in ancient Greece and Crete; I also remember the arresting way she balanced myth and realism both in her storytelling and in the imagined ethos of those cultures. Theseus seems not really to be the son of Poseidon, but I held it out as a possibility for quite a while, and Theseus seems to have as well.

To what extent do you think these stories are a product of their time (late 50's early 60's)? Is the sense of alienness/familiarity/similarity you get reading because the books are mirroring their modern time, or because they simultaneously discovered the idea that in the ancient world people had different values, and went in similar directions? I'm not sure if that question makes sense.
 
posted by [identity profile] lalaithlockhart.livejournal.com at 04:45am on 07/08/2011
'that question' = my rambling question; I guess I'm asking based on your 'none of that was unheard-of for the time', above.
 
posted by [identity profile] lauzeta.livejournal.com at 10:51pm on 10/08/2011
I don't think it was a very impressive comment at all! Although I appreciate the compliment.

I think some of Renault's theories about Archaic Greece have been discredited, although I'd have to do more research to be sure. The thing to remember about Greek myth - well, one of the things - is that they do frequently attribute one human and one divine father to the same person. Theseus' dual parentage is actually accurate to the myth.

I don't know if I really understand your question. I think the style in both books is probably similar because of when they were written, yes - just coming out of the early 20th century and waking to a broader and more difficult world after WWII, maybe has something to do with it? Plus they're so dense and beautiful in their language and research in a way I really don't see often anymore in historical fiction. I suppose I could be reading the wrong things though.

I'm also not saying that none of these books point out the moral grey areas of their protagonists. It's more that - well, I've never seen a King Arthur retelling that gave the story from the other side, you know?

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