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Author Topic: Merlin: Knowledge and Power through the Ages  (Read 2857 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Topic Start: June 06, 2010, 11:37:17 am »

Title: Merlin: Knowledge and Power through the Ages
Author(s): Knight, Stephen
Publisher: Ithaca: Cornell University Press
Publication Date: 2009
ISBN: 0801443652
Current Price and More Info from Amazon

From The Medieval Review:
Stephen Knight's Merlin: Knowledge and Power Through the Ages opens with a sketch of Merlin the icon, a sketch realized on the cover in Howard Pyle's illustration of Merlin as an old man with a pointed hat and long grey beard, a figure who, by the end of the book, has become an eccentric, an "educationally transgenerational grandfather figure" (221) and trope for "the way in which the power of the modern individual controls through irony the force of knowledge which it so patently lacks" (222). Knight seeks to track the development of this icon through 1500 years of literary history, from the Iron Age to the global present. Central to his thesis, articulated in a brief introduction, is that the figure of Merlin has functioned in the West as a figure for an age-old conflict between knowledge and power...

Read the full review at The Medieval Review web site.

Additional Description:
Merlin, the wizard of Arthurian legend, has been a source of enduring fascination for centuries. In this authoritative, entertaining, and generously illustrated book, Stephen Knight traces the myth of Merlin back to its earliest roots in the early Welsh figure of Myrddin. He then follows Merlin as he is imagined and reimagined through centuries of literature and art, beginning with Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose immensely popular History of the Kings of Britain (1138) transmitted the story of Merlin to Europe at large. He covers French and German as well as Anglophone elements of the myth and brings the story up to the present with discussions of a globalized Merlin who finds his way into popular literature, film, television, and New Age philosophy.

Knight argues that Merlin in all his guises represents a conflict basic to Western societies-the clash between knowledge and power. While the Merlin story varies over time, the underlying structural tension remains the same whether it takes the form of bard versus lord, magician versus monarch, scientist versus capitalist, or academic versus politician. As Knight sees it, Merlin embodies the contentious duality inherent to organized societies. In tracing the applied meanings of knowledge in a range of social contexts, Knight reveals the four main stages of the Merlin myth: Wisdom (early Celtic British), Advice (medieval European), Cleverness (early modern English), and Education (worldwide since the nineteenth century). If a wizard can be captured within the pages of a book, Knight has accomplished the feat.

Special Notes:

Legal Notes: Some description text and item pictures in this post may come from and are used by permission. The Cauldron is an Amazon Affiliate and purchases made through the Amazon links in this message help support The Cauldron.

Discussion and reviews of this book are welcome in this thread. If you've read the book, please tell us what you think of it and why.

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