Arthurian Triptych: Mythic Materials in Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, and T. S. Eliot
by Charles Moorman
(University of California Press, 1960, 163 pages)
Arthurian Triptych is an interesting study of myth in the writings of three important twentieth century British literary figures. Moorman makes the case that these authors employ the Arthurian legends as a myth which they shape in order to articulate their critiques of the secularizing trends of the twentieth century. Along with looking at the specific use of myth by these writers, Moorman articulates a theory about the place and function of myth in modern literature more broadly. The use of myth helps to bring a sense of order to the sense of chaos inherent in modern life.
Moorman spends the most space discussing Williams, which makes sense, considering that the Arthurian legends were something of an obsession for him. Their themes ran through his novels, and his two volumes of Arthurian poetry are considered by most to be his greatest literary accomplishment. Moorman skillfully exposits Williams’ poetry in order to show his unique contribution to the Arthurian legends and his use of these legends as a literary vehicle to articulate his particular religious critique of secular society. This book should be helpful to those interested in the role that myth plays in literature.