Le Morte Darthur is a collection of books written by Sir Thomas Malory around 1485, while he was in prison, giving his version of the King Arthur legend. Arthur doesn't really feature however because Malory had a massive gay crush on the fictional character Lancelot. So far as to say Le Morte Darthur may be one of the earliest examples of Fan Fiction.
Sir Thimas Malory (1405-1471/1472) was an English writer from the ghetto of Warwickshire. Life wasn't easy for young Malory, the temptations of gang lifestyle drew him in and he became a criminal. His lengthy rap sheet included breaking and entering, rape, stealing sheep, masturbating in public, calling the Duke of Buckingam a twat, hitting a child in the face, rape again and the most henious crime of all: he became a politician. Malory managed to escape from jail three times, once by killing everyone else in the prison with a chainsaw. Despite being a mentalist, Malory came in favour of Kings and they kept giving him bail and pardoning him. This only fuelled his criminal activities further and Malory became obsessed with living outside the law. Spending so much time in prison allowed him time to write Le Morte Darthur with no interruptions, other than his cell mate weeping softly in the corner. Malory lived a long life and died peacefully of some fucking awful medieval disease probably.
The tales were first scrawled on a wall in human excrement before being transcribed onto the skins of several woodland animals. With the invention of the Gutenberg Printing Press, when people eventually stopped printing pornography and the bible, Le Morte Darthur was distributed throughout Europe and the world. It wasn't popular then and it isn't popular now.
Book One: The Prologues
Book Two: The Adventures of Sir Balin
Sir Balin is a bit like Joe Pesci. He is obsessed with violence and loves hurting people. This book follows him as he drives a cadillac around South Central Los Angeles shouting things like "Yo! Representin Camelot muthfuckas". He also shoots people in the head and stabs somebody with a pen.
Book Three: The Wedding of Arthur and Guenevere
It's worse than watching the old footage of Prince Charles marrying Princess Diana, you just know how it's going to end. Guenevere is so white trash she walks down the aisle to a Britney Spears song. After the wedding Arthur gets drunk and forms the round table, where his knights are sworn in.
Book Six: The Adventures of Sir Lancelot
The three books between this one and Book Three are so dull there's no point even mentioning them. In this book Malory goes mad and declares Lancelot the best person in the world. Lancelot wins American Idol, Lancelot cures cancer, Lancelot goes to Vietnam and saves a black guy, Lancelot this, Lancelot that...
Books Six to Twenty One
Nothing much happens. They don't find the holy grail. Arthur doesn't live on after he dies. Lancelot still good though.
edit Major Characters
Arthur is drunk during 95% of the text, and when sober all he does is cry. Malory's depiction of Arthur remains one of the most negative ones in literary history, deconstructing every single myth that made him look cool. For Christ's sake the title is The Death of Arthur, how much more can Arthur take?
His surname might as well be Obama, Lancelot can do no wrong even when he does wrong. For instance Lancelot is celebrated for being a virgin in the text...then he decides to have sex a lot...but that's ok he's still pure...oh what's that Lancelot? You slept with the King's wife? Oh nevermind it's cool dog. During one chapter, Lancelot wakes up to find a man in his bed and it takes three seconds too long for him to get up and still be a straight man.
Unlike most women in most medieval texts, Guenevere is allowed to speak and leave the house sometimes. She moans and whinges all the time and when she is caught in bed with Lancelot by Arthur's bastard son, she repents and becomes a nun. Then when Lancelot kills Arthur's bastard son, she goes back to being a whore. Brilliant.
Malory hates Merlin because Merlin can do sleight of hand. Therefore Merlin does not make much of an appearance throughout the books. He is however a major character because everyone reading it is thinking "Where the hell is Merlin?".
edit Major Themes
The tales contain many themes and motifs embedded within them:
- Prison - Since Malory himself was imprisoned, many of the characters in Le Morte Darthur become imprisoned in some way. For instance Guenevere is trapped by her marriage and Lancelot within the closet.
- Chivalry - the idea of knighthood was dying out in Malory's time, but he saw himself as a kind of knight. Like Merv in Sin City, Malory was born in the wrong time. He would have preferred to be celebrated for slaughtering and raping stuff, not imprisoned.
- Magic isn't very good - Malory's account of the legend contains the least references to mythical creatures, magical feats and Merlin. There are supernatural elements but they can always be conquered by human strength. Malory would have enjoyed that show on TV where they reveal how tricks are done.
- Women - Malory is scared of women and dislikes them. The text is full of dangerous women leading men astray and teaching them evil ways. Basically every woman in Le Morte Darthur is like Yoko Ono.
- Kings are useless - Lancelot>Arthur. Malory has no respect for the status of a monarch, no matter how many swords he'd pulled. Malory imagined that Lancelot had pulled at more swords than Arthur anyway.
edit Le Morte Darthur in Popular Culture
- In 1880 a play was almost written about it.
- The pornographic film Le More More More Darthur is losely based on the books.