The Figure of Arthur
by Richard Barber.
Arthur of Albion, published in 1961 when the author was 20, was Richard Barber’s first book on Arthur. The present one is a reaction against the current vision,¹ among others, of a Cadbury-based Arthur:
“[T]he orthodox view of Arthur is in danger of becoming accepted as fact by default of a challenger. […] If it seems that all that has been achieved [in this book] is to offer a different but equally insubstantial shadow we can expect no more.”
This “historical Arthur” postulated by current opinion  is an attractive theory but it has its difficulties, he says.
- Documentary evidence in itself is insufficient: the authority of the evidence has to be considered since the writing of history was formerly regarded as a literary activity and not as the objective recording of facts.
- Archaeology rarely supplements historical detail but instead “provides the forest which the historian cannot see for trees.”
- Psychological traps abound for the unwary; since history abhors a vacuum a shape-shifting figure must be created by each era to fulfil its aspirational requirements.