The Celtic Image in Contemporary Adaptations of the Arthurian Legend

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Celtic culture has always been a source of interest in contemporary popular culture, as it has been in the past; Greek and Roman writers painted the Celts as barbaric and uncivilised peoples, but were impressed with their religion and mythology. The Celtic revival period gave birth to the paradox that still defines the Celtic image to this day, namely that the rurality, simplicity and spirituality of the Celts was to be admired, but that they were uncivilised, irrational and wild at the same time. Recent debates surround the concepts of “Celt”, “Celticity” and “Celtic” are also discussed in this thesis. The first part of this thesis focuses on Celtic history and culture, as well as the complexities surrounding the terminology and the construction of the Celtic image over the centuries. This main body of the thesis analyses the way Celtic elements in contemporary adaptations of the Arthurian narrative form the modern Celtic image. The themes of gender, nature and supernatural provide the scope of the analysis of the film King Arthur (2004) directed by Antoine Fuqua, BBC’s television series Merlin (2008-2012) and the novel I am Morgan le Fay (2002) written by Nancy Springer. This thesis attempts to connect the contemporary Celtic image to the images of the past and discerns the mythology, religion and culture that make up the modern-day Celtic image.
Faculteit der Letteren