20 November 2008

Beating up Malory

In the Medieval Lit class, we've finally gotten to Malory, who, after figuring out how to cobble several contradictory bits of Arthurian stories together, would allow us to create most of the middle ages as we culturally know them. I try to be polite about the literature I'm teaching, but Malory goes up my nose.

And he's so easy to make fun of. I myself, in the long ago, posted a Malory parody of our department's reaction to the Starbucks coming in to the Student Union building.

Today I'm pleased to bring you a bit written by one of my students, and stolen by me off another student's Facebook page (I asked, of course).

It started when one of the students asked, about the sword in the stone, "isn't this phallic imagery?" To which I replied, "isn't everything phallic imagery?"

And then later in the grad office they had a long discussion of Malory, using the work "penisy" many times.

And then one of the other students came up with this bit of Maloriana:

"Than kynge Arthure loked on the swerde and lyked hit passynge well, especially its gret gyrth and lyngth. Than seyde Merlion,'Whethir lyke ye better the swerde othir the scawberde?'"I lyke bettir the swerde,' seyde Arthure."Ye ar the more unwyse, for the scarberde ys worth ten of the swerde; for whyles ye have the scawberde uppon you ye shall lose no fluyde. Therefore kepe well the scawberde allweyes with you, and note ye welle thys reysyrvaur at the tippe. Yt ys moste crusiall.'
'Nay, Merlion. I wit ryght welle thys scarberde be to smalle for myne longe swerde.'
'Alas, Arthure, ye shall beget your own downfall with thys vainglory and unwieldy swerde. Put hit away, ye be creyping me out. For Merlion may be maister of many dyverse thynges, but hys cocke doth not crowe in thyn direction.'
[Malory. pg 36. Oxford. 1971]

I'm glad that my students are learning so well.


Stoy said...

HA! "How the English Department did Deal with the Starbucks" is hilarious. And, I might add, the word penis-y (should it have a hyphen?) amuses me. (Obviously I am still twelve at heart and laugh at words relating to genitalia that have been made into adjectives quite poorly.)

Also, I have left a copy of A Game of Thrones in your mailbox in case you need some light reading for Thanksgiving break. However, feel free to keep it as long as you like! I think/hope you will enjoy it.

CarlBrannen said...

I wish I knew enough about this that I could tell which parts are really Malory and which are a sendup. Now I'm going to have to google the thing about the sword.

CarlBrannen said...

Well now I know. In addition to spending a great deal of time talking about swords, I was a little surprised to see so many female character's in Malory's work wreaking vengence or otherwise being complicated.

Dead literature lives forever, but you might enjoy the obituary for this dead physics paper. Academics don't like to admit that they're wrong, but every now and then it happens. In addition, there is a big fight going on between the brilliant and infamous Lubos Motl and an experimentalist.

The latter seems to be winning. Ah, I wrote too soon. In looking up the link, I see the poor theoretician has now admitted his error, and, I might note, with far greater grace than anyone who knows of his infamousness expected. I guess the alternative was to have his error harped on forever.

My favorite part of the debate was when the (Italian) experimentalist told him that debating the meaning of the paper with an experimentalist who was listed as an author was like jumping into a tiger's hole in terms of bravery.

lacy said...

Oh, it's good to see that "penisy" is making its way across the internet. EJ and I were busily spreading the word (literally) around the English department.