Summary: The spread of the Arthurian legend during the course of the twelfth century is one of the most remarkable phenomena in literary history. ''Arthurian Chronicles'' looks at two unsung but deserving poets who contributed to the diffusion of the legend, Wace who preceded the more famous Chretien de Troyes, and Layamon, who followed him.
Wace was of an inquiring turn of mind, with, for his day, a scholarly and sceptical approach to lais, marvellous tales, ...show more and fables. `Not all lies, nor all true, all foolishness, nor all sense. So much have the story-tellers told, and so much have the makers of fables fabled to embellish their stories, that they have made all seem fable,' he writes. He was the first to mention the famous Round Table.
In Layamon's Brut, Arthur, hero and emperor, makes his first appearance in English vernacular literature. It is Layamon who tells of the elves that attended on the infant Arthur and endowed him with gifts and qualities; he also launched Arthur after his last battle to Argante in Avallon, to be healed of his wounds.
In this English language prose translation of the Wace and Layamon Arthurian poems, the folk-tale ferocity of Arthur is made as exciting to the readers as to the poets who contributed so much to Arthur's legend.