Folklore as a Unifying Factor in The Antwyrs off Arthure
Lowe, Virginia A.P.
Folklore Forum 13 (2/3) (1980)
Among the many minor Middle English romances that have attracted little serious notice is The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyn. One of the major critical problems thus left unexamined is that of the poem’s apparent disunity; it is a short poem (715 lines) in the Arthurian tradition and consists of two distinct episodes which appear to be only vaguely related. F.J. Amour has characterized this relationship as existing only in “identity of time and place” and as nothing sufficient to form a conclusive whole. The. few scholars who see much virtue in this romance tend to prefer the first (A) episode and often dispense entirely with discussion of the second (B). The second episode, when it is subjected to critical scrutiny, is most often seen as a moral balance to the first in keeping with the standards of Arthurian romance. The story line as a whole has been called “weak and meager”; George Kane feels that “the thin little thread of narrative’ is lost amidst the poetry, and that after the pleasure in words fades all that is left is boredom.