This is about to be random, but I feel like I need to write about it somewhere, and since this is my blog, here it is.
I’m re-reading The Once and Future King by T. H. White. I first read it when I was 13 or 14 years old because I loved, loved, loved all things Arthurian (and Robin Hood—The Sword in the Stone and Robin Hood are my favorite Disney animated features). Anyway, back then I didn’t really enjoy the book. I think this is because I didn’t understand that it was meant to be funny, and I also didn’t understand that, even though The Sword in the Stone used TOaFK as source material, it wasn’t a direct adaptation. Like, I didn’t really know that the book-to-film process wasn’t a one-to-one kind of thing.
If you’ve read my previous post, you know that my daughter asked to start watching Merlin, and we’re enjoying it for the most part. (We’re only about four episodes into Season 4; that goblin episode was infuriating.) So I decided I’d try TOaFK again as well. I’m not very far in, but Arthur (aka Wart, but I’ve always hated that name) and Kay have… Hang on, because if you haven’t read the book but you want to this might be considered a spoiler, so this is your chance to stop reading… Okay, for those of you still here: Arthur and Kay have just met Robin Hood. And while on the one hand this delights me because, hey, two of my favorites together in one place! On the other hand, I’m like: NO. There’s about 1,000 years difference between the time of Arthur and Robin Hood. (I’m rounding.) There is also quite a distance between them, as one was in Wales/Cornwall and the other was in Nottinghamshire.
I was about to chalk it up to Merlyn (that’s how his name is spelled in White) and his magic and living backwards and whatnot, but Arthur and Kay knew who Robin was, so that wouldn’t make sense. I do suppose Merlyn could have managed the distance in some magical way, though. And, I mean, this is not a serious issue. The book is a bit silly anyway, so who cares if Robin Hood (or Wood) is there, and Marian, and Little John? I should just be able to enjoy it. But it’s a case of a little knowledge being dangerous, or at least in it being detrimental to my pleasure. I usually like knowing things, but sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
Maybe I’m wrong? If so, please set me right! Maybe my understanding of the times and places involved is, er, a misunderstanding. I haven’t studied this kind of history in a very long time, so maybe I’m misremembering something vital.
I used to, as a [lonely only] child choose a topic each summer to research. It was usually history or mythology of some kind (or a combination of the two). I would check out as many books as I could get my hands on at the library, and I would make extensive notes in piles of notebooks all summer long. And then, at the end of the summer, I would compile all of that into a long essay. Yes, that really was my idea of fun. It still is to some extent… But all this is to say that I did Arthurian legends one summer, and tales of Robin Hood some other summer, but that was a long time ago, and while I’ve certainly read a few stories about them since, I don’t have all that information on total recall. I guess that’s what Wikipedia is for, but I prefer to delve, and I still find books the best sources for those kinds of deep dives. Maybe I should hit up the library (ours just recently re-opened) and do a fresh round of research…