‘Erec et Enide’ and ‘Geraint mab Erbin’ (18th March)

Gregynog is located in that region of Wales which is generally called “The Middle Borderland”. Of all the Welsh border country this middle area epitomizes the physical and human characteristics of a border region in geographical terms. The uplands of Central Wales extend long fingers of land to the east, such as the Long Mountain and the Kerry Hills, while also in this same region tongues of riverine lowland reach westwards far into Wales, as in the Upper Severn, or Vale of Powys, near which Gregynog lies. This is also a region in which after many centuries of conflict two peoples and two languages have reached a situation in which although each strives to maintain its identity, both also integrate into a region which is essentially transitional in character.[1]


The gallant knight errant often crosses a variety of borders as he journeys through the landscape of medieval romance. So too did the several members of the MEMORI Reading Group as we traveled – albeit on a bus, rather than on a noble steed – from Cardiff to Greynog Hall for the inaugural MA English Literature Conference.

At Gregynog, the Reading Group revisited Chretien’s de Troyes’ Erec et Enide and Geraint mab Erbin from the Mabinogion. For this session, the group consisted of a range of regular members mixed with some new faces, but all of the attendees are currently enrolled on the English Literature MA programme, and have studied some medieval literature.

Many members of the group were familiar with Chretien’s other romances, or other manifestations of the Arthurian legend, although the Welsh text was a little more unfamiliar. The group discussed a range of topics, including: the various court scenes; the aggressive dwarf; the poor vavasour; the stag hunt and the sparrow hawk contest; the marriage of Erec/Geraint and Enid(e); and we also considered why the two tales differ in their style and form. As ever, the group was engaged with the material, and the session provided good opportunity to reflect on and to further appreciate the intricate relationships between these two texts.

Three MA students, who regularly attend the MEMORI Reading Group and Research Seminar, also gave their first papers at the conference. Charli Pruce spoke on ‘Knowledge and Power in the High Medieval Renaissance’; Sarah Jones talked about ‘Escapism, Danger, and Medievalism in the Secondary Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis’; Arthur Usher presented on ‘Ill-Speaking in Malory’s Morte Darthur’; and Olivia Mills delivered a paper on ‘Mountains, Myth and Magic – Welsh Landscape in Children’s Fantasy Literature’.

After two days of in rural Wales, the group returned to Cardiff. The Reading Group will reconvene in April in our usual location, when we will be reading the Awyntwrs of Arthure. All welcome.

 

[1] Harold Carter and J. Gareth Thomas, ‘Gregynog – The Regional Setting’, in Gregynog, ed. Glyn Tegai Hughes, Prys Morgan and J. Gareth Thomas (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1977), pp. 1-10 (p.1).

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