Guinevere’s journey from literary sinner to feminist icon took over one thousand years…and it’s not over yet.
Literature tells us painfully little about Guinevere, mostly focusing on her sin and betrayal of Arthur and Camelot. As a result, she is often seen as a one-dimensional character. But there is more to her story. By examining popular works of more than 20 authors over the last one thousand years, The Once and Future Queen shows how Guinevere reflects attitudes toward women during the time in which her story was written, changing to suit the expectations of her audience. Beginning in Celtic times and continuing through the present day, this book synthesizes academic criticism and popular opinion into a highly readable, approachable work that fills a gap in Arthurian material available to the general public.
Nicole Evelina has spent more than 15 years studying Arthurian legend. She is also a feminist known for her fictional portrayals of strong historical and legendary women, including Guinevere. Now, she combines these two passions to examine the effect of changing times and attitudes on the character of Guinevere in a must-read book for Arthurian enthusiasts of every knowledge level.
This uneven examination of the character of Guinevere in literature by novelist Evelina (Camelot's Queen) aims for a popular audience, but is formatted more like an academic work. The bulk of the text consists of a scholarly examination, beginning with the earliest medieval Welsh works mentioning King Arthur's queen and moving forward to the present. Discussing widely recognized works such as those of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Thomas Malory, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and T.H. White, along with other, lesser-known authors, Evelina focuses on how Guinevere's depiction reflects the status of women and the religious climate at the time of writing. These chapters do a fair job of summing up the scholarship of others with the notes and extensive source lists one would expect of an academic piece. For the final chapters, Evelina turns to the works of two self-published authors, herself included. While readily admitting the unconventionality of evaluating herself, she makes a spirited case for her own contributions to the Guinevere character. These final chapters rely more on reviews from popular websites, such as Goodreads and Amazon, than scholastic references. This change from an academic to a popular tone is jarring, but Arthurian buffs may find use for Evelina's study as a readers' advisory tool. (BookLife)
Saint or Sinner
"The timeless universality of the themes in the Arthurian legend might also account for the continuing attraction. No matter the year, love, loyalty, might versus right, betrayal, and equality are part of our lives."
Guinevere: saint, or sinner? Model wife or feminist? Historical or fantasy metaphor? Nicole Evanilina's seminal overview of both fiction and fact is a lot to take in as she visits and revisits the historical record of the woman known as Guenivere, a chess piece of both romance and theology/theology. Steeped in tradition of courtly love, authors have used her to symbolize the wanton one, the pure one, the wished for savior, the devil incarnate, Arthur's helpmeet or his destruction.
This is an extant piece of work and a welcome overview of the tradition from century to the present with enough notes to make your head spin. ASA theologian and a church historian I welcome this book into the cadre, and highly recommend it. 5/5