Arthurian Literature and Society by Stephen Knight (auth.)

By Stephen Knight (auth.)

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Evans, 1975, eh. 6). But nature also had its beneficent, summer-like side. This is represented by the giant's daughter Olwen. If his wrath can be faced successfully, her rich fecundity can be possessed. A formal description makes her essence richly dear: 20 ARTHURIAN LITERATURE AND SOCIETY Yellower was her head than the flower ofthe broom; whiter was her flesh than the foam ofthe wave; whiter were her palms and her fingers than the shoots ofthe marsh trefoil from amidst the fine gravel of a welling spring.

Hywel is the only credible model for a Welsh over-king based in South Wales. But there are eloser resemblances than that between the story and Hywel's domains. The route ofthe Twreh is not only to be associated with Irish settlements; he goes out of his way, out of the Irish way, to swing south through the rieh THE EARLY BRITISH ARTHURIAN LEGEND 33 heart of Ystrad Tywi, soutllern Seisyllwg. More strikingly still, there is no interest in the Twrch making any entry into Morgannwg. There had been Irish there (Plate 3), and he is presumably driven from Brycheiniog into the Severn across that area, but the text is very vague about his entry-point - somewhere between the estuaries of the Wye and the Lliw, near modern Llanelli.

44-5 and 251-2). Henry's reaction must have becn a common one: thc Historia survives today in over two hundred manuscripts, a staggering number for such an early work, and over fifty ofthem, a relatively huge proportion, come from thc twelfth centm'y itself. It is true that a Latin work, likely to bc copied and preservedby monks, has a better chance ofsurvival than a secular and vernacular text, but it is still a sign of cxtraordinary success. Since it is written in Latin, the primary audience for theHistoria must have been c1erics.

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Arthurian Literature and Society by Stephen Knight (auth.)
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