Five more fun and surprising facts you might not have known about literature!
There is only one version of King Arthur and one of Robin Hood.
Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (1485) is one of the most famous versions of King Arthur, but stories about the character existed in English and folklore long before Malory came along. Plus other authors such as Geoffrey of Monmouth and Chrétien de Troyes added their own tales to the legend.
Likewise, there is no single, definitive source for the Robin Hood legends. There are early ballads from the late 15th century or early 16th century, but not all the familiar characters such as Maid Marian appeared at that time. Other alternations such as Robin’s support of King Richard and his status as a nobleman would also come later.
C. S. Lewis was only a children’s author.
C. S. Lewis did more than write the Chronicles of Narnia. He was a medievalist who write literary criticism. He was a poet. He was an apologist who explored Christianity in such works as Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, and The Problem of Pain. He also wrote adult fiction including his Space Trilogy, Till We Have Faces, and The Screwtape Letters.
Les Misérables is set during the French Revolution.
Victor Hugo’s novel actually describes the Paris Uprising of 1832, a response to the July Revolution (1830), which placed Louis Phillipe on the throne. The story begins in 1815, some years after the French Revolution (1789-1799).
In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron is just a giant eye.
The book does describe the eye of Sauron being drawn to certain places, though it’s unclear if he can actually manifest as a giant eye or if these descriptions are simply referring to Sauron’s “all-seeing” gaze. However, we can assume that he does at least have a physical body (which would aid him in wearing the One Ring!). Gollum describes seeing the Dark Lord’s hand missing one finger.
There is One set list of the Canon.
The canon is the body of works generally considered to influential in shaping Western literature. Two of the more famous lists are the 1909 Harvard Classics and Harold Bloom’s 1994 The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. However, there is no single version of the canon accepted and agreed upon by everyone. Indeed, the canon has become increasingly contentious over the years as people advocate adding authors, creating separate canons (such as a women’s canon), or dropping the idea of the canon altogether. Here you can read more about the difference between classics and the canon.
Other Posts in the Series
- 5 Bookish Misconceptions: Part 1 (Featuring LotR, Shakespeare, and more!)
- Part 3
- Part 4
- 10 Misconceptions about J.R.R. Tolkien and His Work