Re: RARA-AVIS: Marlowe as Arthurian hero?

From: George C. Upper III (
Date: 26 Jul 2002

--- Mario Taboada <> wrote:
> If Chandler was thinking of making Marlowe an
> Arthurian
> hero, I wonder which model he had in mind.

Well, the real problem is not even which character he had in mind, but rather which incarnation of which character. The Arthur Mr. T. describes is essentially Malory's Arthur, but he is a much more active and heroic character in earlier incarnations. Even with Lancelot's faults, Malory clearly intended him as the model of knighthood--and there are plenty of versions which paint Lancelot as either a better or a worse man. I love Tennyson's version myself--it's the first one I read--but Tennyson really didn't hold true to the legends as they existed before his time, so I don't think of him as "authentic," whatever that means.

Perhaps Chandler's collected letters offer some insight into this question. If I had to pick a knight, I'd say Gawaine as he appears in Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight--virtuous, reckless, and even a little...I can't come up with the word. Not naive, but something like that. He wears a token of his own guilt back to court, and the other court members mock him--good-naturedly--about it. Marlowe also sees in himself shortcomings that most of the world would laugh at or ignore in a man who is so worthly otherwise. That's not naive, it's romantic. But I hate to use that word.


===== George C. Upper III, Editor The Lightning Bell Poetry Journal

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