Myth and National Identity in Nineteenth-Century Britain: The Legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood

Hardcover | March 2, 2000

byStephanie Barczewski

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Scholars have become increasingly interested in how modern national consciousness comes into being through fictional narratives. Literature is of particular importance to this process, for it is responsible for tracing the nations evolution through glorious tales of its history. Innineteenth-century Britain, the legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood played an important role in construction of contemporary national identity. These two legends provide excellent windows through which to view British culture, because they provide very different perspectives. King Arthur andRobin Hood have traditionally been diametrically opposed in terms of their ideological orientation. The former is a king, a man at the pinnacle of the social and political hierarchy, whereas the latter is an outlaw, and is therefore completely outside conventional hierarchical structures. The factthat two such different figures could simultaneously function as British national heroes suggests that nineteenth-century British nationalism did not represent a single set of values and ideas, but rather that it was forced to assimilate a variety of competing points of view.

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Scholars have become increasingly interested in how modern national consciousness comes into being through fictional narratives. Literature is of particular importance to this process, for it is responsible for tracing the nations evolution through glorious tales of its history. Innineteenth-century Britain, the legends of King Arthu...

Stephanie Barczewski is at Clemson University.

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Format:HardcoverPublished:March 2, 2000Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019820728X

ISBN - 13:9780198207283

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`Professor Barczewski's erudite yet immensely readable book ... is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the rise of English nationalism and the subjugation of Celtic culture.'Brendan McMahon, The Cornish Banner Aug 2000, No.101.