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‘Arthurian Torsos’ and Professor Nohrnberg’s Unrepeatable Experiment

‘Arthurian Torsos’ and Professor Nohrnberg’s Unrepeatable Experiment

Buckman, Ty

Arthuriana 21.1 (2011)

Abstract

This essay identifies the ‘unrepeatable experiment’ that is at the core of James Nohrnberg’s critical work, especially The Analogy of The Faerie Queene, by following his reading of Arthur in the early part of the poem to the appearance of the Blatant Beast at the end.

In his 1976 study, The Analogy of the Faerie Queene, Professor James Nohrnberg titles one of the earliest sections of his first chapter, ‘Arthurian Torso.’ The phrase recalls that in 1948, C.S. Lewis sought to rescue his late friend Charles Williams’ labors in the Arthurian vineyard from an impending obscurity by publishing together his incomplete treatise on the long arc of the Arthurian and Grail traditions, and Lewis’ own commentary on his friend’s Arthurian lyric cycle, as Arthurian Torso: Containing the Posthumous Fragment of The Figure of Arthur by Charles Williams and A Commentary on the Arthurian Poems of Charles Williams.

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