Ann F Howey and Stephen R Reimer editors
A Bibliography of Modern Arthuriana (1500-2000)
D S Brewer 2006
What is Arthuriana? The authors choose to define it as “the Arthurian legend in modern English-language fiction”, and include such manifestations as literary (but not non-fictional) texts, audio-visual media (film, television, radio, audio-books) and aspects of popular culture such as graphic novels and games. Aimed at students (the general public as well as scholars), collectors and librarians, this compilation is ideal both as a reference work and as a treasure chest to dip into.
Six sections (prefixed by the letters A to F) list works under authors, performers or titles, as appropriate. The listings (literature; comics and graphic novels; film, TV and radio; music; games; fine art and graphic design) are supplemented by an index and a catalogue of Arthurian characters and themes; for most of the entries there are annotations after the publishing details, some terse, others more extended. The whole is a massive and impressive undertaking by these Canadian academics from the English Department of the University of Alberta, and is one that bears comparison with Philip Boardman and Dan Nastali’s The Arthurian Annals (OUP 2004, though the latter does cover a longer time span, and in two volumes). Such works need not be just the preserve of specialists — though at the advertised price sadly that is the target market — nor appeal only to completists.
Inevitably, with such a vast compendium, one or two errors appear — from personal knowledge for example I find that Jess Foster, correctly noted as founder of the British group the Pendragon Society, has mysteriously changed her gender; and under Canadian poet John Badger it is mistakenly stated that “Pendragon House is the publishing arm of the Pendragon Society” — it was not — and “claims to have been the instigator of the 1968 archaeological dig at Cadbury Castle” and thus responsible for “finding Camelot” — also incorrect. Even distinguished academics will occasionally come a cropper, especially when they have to partly rely on secondary sources and speedy surmise to fill a reference work of over 800 pages.
Such quibbles aside, the preserve of those directly involved with such matters, specialist Arthurians will find this an invaluable research tool. I was kindly sent this copy for review by the publishers in an unbound format, highly awkward to handle; but with a price tag of £125/$250 as a long-term Arthurian enthusiast I’m just very grateful to be able to consult such a detailed and valuable resource. It’s also satisfying to discover that in the course of half a century I’ve come to know or correspond with a substantial number of individuals named as authors or artists in these pages.