Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Arthur And Merlin

I am reading JRR Tolkien's unfinished alliterative poem, The Fall Of Arthur (London, 2013), and reflecting on the continuation of the Arthurian legend into novels, films and TV series. Neil Gaiman's time traveling Tim Hunter meets the young Merlin in the past whereas CS Lewis' space traveling Elwin Ransom meets the revived Merlinus Ambrosius on Earth, then joins the undying Arthur on Venus. Gaiman's Neverwhere refers to Merlin's master, Blaise.

Tolkien wrote not a novel incorporating Arthur or Merlin but a poem in modern English though in ancient style:

                             "Time is changing;
"the West waning,  a wind rising
"in the waxing East. The world falters.
"New tides are running  in the narrow waters." (p. 32)

This rhythm recalled to my mind Gaiman's competition between Dream and Choronzon (although I am now less sure of the similarity):

Dream: I am a hunter, horse-mounted, wolf-stabbing.
Choronzon: I am a horsefly, horse-stinging, hunter-throwing. (etc)
- Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: Preludes And Nocturnes (New York, 1991), p. 123.

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