The Corner

King Arthur

Does King Arthur show up in any of the novels of Alfred Duggan that I have

been promoting? Sure does: He has a walk-on part in “The Conscience of the

King,” a book narrated by a renegade Roman in late 5th-century Britain.

With the skill of a born novelist, Duggan never lets us actually see Arthur,

but leaves him a dim and shadowy figure, as he is in history. He refers to

Arthur only by his Latin name, Artorius. The book has a good account of the

batle of Maount Badon, where Arthur is supposed to have stopped the advance

of the English across Britain.

(“Dim and shadowy” hardly does justice to the extreme historical obscurity

of Arthur. If he existed, he was a British warlord in the chaotic, and

almost totally undocumented, century after the Roman legions left Britain,

and the English started coming in from northern Germany to take over the

country. Even Arthur’s existence in unproved, however. All the romantic

stories about him and his court were cooked up hundreds of years later.)


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