Author Norma Goodrich has combed the fields of literature, history, anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, and linguistics to present the first historical proof that Arthur was once the King.
The many readers who are enthralled with the enduring legend of Camelot will be drawn to this fascinating book, which "may become the definitive work in the effort to prove the historical authenticity of King Arthur."--UPI
From Library Journal
Though Goodrich asserts that hers "is the first book to have explored very minutely and in the original languages both the historical and literary material concerning King Arthur," numerous Arthurian scholars have written similarly researched books with similar conclusions. Goodrich assumes ancient authors were accurate, and she has made the following findings: the real Arthur operated "between what is now Scotland and what is now England," rather than in the South; he died near Douglas; and Avalon was St. Patrick's Isle, near Man. Her romantic sensibilities skate over the treacherous evidence and find geographic certainties everywhere. Despite these drawbacks, this is enjoyable reading for the public library patron interested in King Arthur. Don Fry, Poynter Inst. for Media Studies, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Goodrich traces the origins of the Arthurian tales back to 1136, when "the best writers of the twelfth century... happened upon written materials containing mention of this ancient lost king, his queen, and his commander Lancelot. According to the legends, Merlin wrote down the earliest records of Arthur's reign; but those annals have long since disappeared.
To understand the story of Arthur's life, we have the Arthurian texts of William of Malmesbury, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Caradoc of Llancarvan, Eilhart von Oberge, Brother Robert, Marie de France, Chretien de Troyes, Robert de Boron, Gervase of Tilbury, Thomas of Britain, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Gottfried von Strassburg, Ulrich von Zatzikhoven, and the ever famous Anon. And, that's just from the High Middle Ages. "During the Middle Ages," Goodrich says, "writers specializing in mythology took the circumstances of Arthur's life and enhanced them until his biography resembled various mythical plots and characters." The Great Wain (the Big Dipper) constellation was associated with Arthur, who rode across the sky on a magical horse.
In Search of King Arthur
Goodrich says, "We know that the search for King Arthur takes us back to the most obscure centuries of the Dark Age. His realm illustrates the idea of lost knowledge... Arthur was born into a savage world." Drawing material from the many sources, she constructs a vivid portrayal of King Arthur, using Geoffrey's parts as an outline: Arthur's ancestry and birth, his battles, his coronation, the continental campaign, the defeat of Calan, Arthur's wounding, and his departure."Like the epic hero he is beloved of the gods," Goodrich says. King Arthur is depicted as "pious and honorable, an active and military hero, and like the true epic hero he is a man whose death becomes him as much as his deeds in life raised him daily in the reverence of his followers."
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Obviously, this book has many detractors. But they all seem to completely miss the point...it's all about the translation.
Dr. Goodrich is an ancient languages expert (she knows more than 20), and her postulations are primarily based on her corrections of previously mistranslated names and places in the source texts. These mistaken translators had a difficult job nailing down correct proper names in a time when spelling differed according to the writer, and knowledge of the areas in which the events took place was imperfect (in some cases, the translators had never actually been to those sites themselves, since travel was often difficult and dangerous during the middle ages). This is why her theories diverge widely from the majority of others'.
It's obvious that Dr. Goodrich has done extensive research in both oral history and legend, written material, and geographic sites all connected to King Arthur. It is true that some, but not all, of Dr. Goodrich's sources are works of fiction, although the 'Historia Regum Britanniae,' was considered factual at the time of its publication in 1136-38. However, I would also like to point out that Mr. Geoffrey Ashe, among others, used many of those same source texts as Dr. Goodrich to attempt to prove his theories about the real King Arthur. I mention this because he has been compared to Dr. Goodrich in other reviews. This book is not a fast read, but i was impressed and intrigued by her theories and the methods by which she formulated them (which she thoroughly and politely explains, though other reviewers claimed the contrary).
In summary, i love this book and look forward to reading 'Guinevere', 'Merlin', and 'Holy Grail', also by Dr. Goodrich. I would also like to appeal to reviewers who spit vitriol at Dr. Goodrich for her theories: it seems to me that many of you didn't actually read all of this book, so why blame Dr. Goodrich for your lack of patience or your inability to follow along? And please tone down the insults...they only serve to reveal your lack of manners and education. -Lass MacArthur (May 12, 2012)
"When people come to me looking for references on King Arthur, Norma Lorre Goodrich's book is the first place I send them. She also has these wonderful titles on Guinevere and Merlin (books by those titles also). She has done so much research it's pathetic. She manages to keep the flavor of the mythology while also making you think and helping you sort through the details. An Arthur researcher who is familiar with this many of the old languages? You just don't find this. Start here on your Arthur reading then include T.H. White's Once and Future King and Robert Nye's Merlin. You really need nothing else to get acquainted. Beats the heck out of all that bad Celtic fan writing out there." -Amazon Reviewer
"Goodrich provides evidence that King Arthur had life beyond the myth, based on Medieval documents, her knowledge of Middle-Ages languages, and present-day Ordinance maps. In conjunction with her works on Merlin, Guenievere, and The Holy Grail she documents his life and times and is most persuasive. She cites research by Marie of France, Eleanore of Aquitane's daughter, and the story that one written account was lost by Richard the Lionheart in a card game. This dense-with-information study takes diligence -- I'm a college graduate with an English minor and it's the hardest book I ever read. But well worth it. " -Compulsive Reader, Santa Cruz, CA
book was daunting, but I loved it- fascinating to see her
language-based approach to the historical Arthur. Filled with one
revelation after another and I was convinced by most of them. I could
also see why the historical "establishment" had a hard time with her
conclusions. It's not written like a history book, which makes sense
since her emphasis is language and literature. She's willing to find a
breakthrough and accepts it wholeheartedly. Historians tend to waffle
more when it comes to conclusions, especially with so little physical
evidence. But I'm a believer!
- from Dave (June 2013) at goodreads.com
A real history of King Arthur by a historian. Not for the faint hearted.-from Doug (March 2012) at goodreads.com
"Dr. Goodrich gives a wonderful look at the life and actions of King Arthur. She has done numerous amounts of research in order to prove that this once great King did in fact exist, but she refuses to leave it at that. She goes on to discuss such subjects as the abduction of Arthur's queen and where his body lay after death. If ever you are interested in, and open-minded about, King Arthur and his life pick up this book. It will be worth your while. " -Amazon customer
"Anyone who subscribes to the romance and mystery of the Arthurian legends will be upset and confused by this book. Those who have open minds and have not been blinded by what has been written centuries before, will appreciate Ms. Goodrich's diligent efforts. Modern man and woman have had the wool pulled over their eyes too many years where Arthur and Camelot have been concerned. It's time that the story be told correctly!" -Debrirk, Scottsdale, AZ