The Glory of Arthur

The Legendary King in Epic Poems of Layamon, Spenser and Blake


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About the Book

Starting with William Blake’s lost painting The Ancient Britons, this book shows how the visionary artist and poet reworked the Matter of Britain—the corpus of legends presenting an alternative history of Britain—into his own mythology. He thus adds to a tradition of Arthurian epic begun by Layamon in the 13th century and continued by Edmund Spenser in the 16th, in which a Romano-Celtic warlord becomes an icon of the English imagination.

This book shows how Britain became the promised land of a pagan goddess where mythical events are as important as those of history, and how the figure of Arthur is transformed into a British Messiah whose Christian realm is in continuous interaction with the Otherworld of Faerie, an imagined place between the spiritual and the earthly. Arthur as perceived through Blake’s vision is the earthly embodiment of the fallen Albion; this exploration of the mythic underpinnings of the English sense of nationhood reveals an imaginative consciousness that links us to “human existence itself.”

About the Author(s)

Jeffrey John Dixon, after studying English literature at Sussex University, travelled widely and now lives and writes in Powys, United Kingdom.

Bibliographic Details

Jeffrey John Dixon
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9456-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1609-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface   1

Introduction: Imagining Arthur   5

Prologue: The Lost Ancient Britons   11

One. The Founding of Britain   31

Two. The Conversion of Britain   47

Three. Dreaming of Sovereignty   61

Four. Immortal Imagination   84

Five. The Image of a Brave Knight   102

Six. The King of Two Worlds   115

Seven. The Sun of Britain Sets   133

Eight. The British Messiah   149

Nine. The Couch of Albion   165

Epilogue: Believing Vision   178

Appendix: Masterful Images   183

Chapter Notes   191

Bibliography   195

Index   199