December 2: The Holy Grail -- The Director's Cut

Yeah, that's right -- two movie pictures in a row. We support all forms of cultural literacy.

Like before, it's impossible to read Malory without thinking of Monty Python. In fact my opinion of the movie has been improved, because I thought they were making up the Castle of Maidens, and yet here it is right in the text.

There's even more stuff they omitted, naturally. Stuff like:

• Launcelot (I might as well use the spelling in the excerpt) is Galahad's father. Launcelot, as will be seen, is a great sinner, so that's some ironical irony right there. There's also this kind of Star Wars-y thing, when Sir Galahad, fresh from the Castle of Maidens, is in disguise or something:
Right so Sir Launcelot, his father, dressed his spear and brake it upon Sir Galahad, and Galahad smote him so again that he smote down horse and man. And then he drew his sword, and dressed him unto Sir Percivale, and smote him so on the helm, that it rove to the coif of steel; and had not the sword swerved Sir Percivale had been slain, and with the stroke he fell out of his saddle. This jousts was done tofore the hermitage where a recluse dwelled. And when she saw Sir Galahad ride, she said: God be with thee, best knight of the world.
Galahad then improves upon his best-knight-of-the-world credentials by running away. The medieval world is impossible to understand sometimes.

• There are even more hermits and recluses in Malory than in the movie -- there's like three in this short excerpt. Perhaps they were all from thriving communities laid low by plague. Or maybe they were just medieval hippies.

• The great thing in this excerpt is Lancelot's moment of repentance. In a quasi-dream (the text is very specific on that), he watches someone get healed by the Grail, but can't get any closer. The Grail also yells at him:
Right so heard he a voice that said: Sir Launcelot, more harder than is the stone, and more bitter than is the wood, and more naked and barer than is the leaf of the fig tree; therefore go thou from hence, and withdraw thee from this holy place.
Then he beats himself up, as if he were on Oprah or something:
For when I sought worldly adventures for worldly desires, I ever achieved them and had the better in every place, and never was I discomfit in no quarrel, were it right or wrong. And now I take upon me the adventures of holy things, and now I see and understand that mine old sin hindereth me and shameth me, so that I had no power to stir nor speak when the holy blood appeared afore me.
In other words, Launcelot only wants to be free of desire when his desires are frustrated. He's like everyone else, basically. Then he goes to a hermit (of course) and blames the woman:
And then he told there that good man all his life. And how he had loved a queen unmeasurably and out of measure long. And all my great deeds of arms that I have done, I did for the most part for the queen’s sake, and for her sake would I do battle were it right or wrong; and never did I battle all only for God’s sake, but for to win worship and to cause me to be the better beloved, and little or nought I thanked God of it.
This sob story works, and the hermit gives him one day of penance before sending him on his way. In the reading of it, I was affected by Lancelot's dark night, having had my own share of them; especially because you know he can't quit Guinevere and it's all going to end badly. But now, thinking about it, I'm like, hey, one day of penance, what kind of reform do you expect? Even crappy celebrity rehab is longer than that.

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