M.T. Anderson Discusses Yvain: The Knight of the Lion
Happy Monday! I am honored to turn over my blog for the day to National Book Award winner M.T. Anderson. Many, many thanks, Mr. Anderson!
Since I was a teenage Dungeons & Dragons player, I have always loved medieval literature -- all those tales of knights, maidens, dragons, demons, and saints. But at the same time, as a nerd, I was very suspicious of the way manhood was portrayed in those old epics and lais. When I read Chretien de Troyes's epic YVAIN, my eyes were opened: Here was a medieval story that actually dealt with the emotional realities of what it must have been like to be around all these freaking frat-boy knights trying to outdo each other and prove their prowess. And the story explored this question with subtlety, irony, and finesse. That is more than can be said for a lot of modern fantasy novels. When I was a kid, of course, it was still the heyday of the Boris Vallejo school of boobical-breastical barbarianism -- and if you look at the debates in the modern fantasy community (and things like Gamergate) you'll see that for many men, "fantasy" still involves a dream of homosocial male dominance. And yet things were always more complicated than that, even in the grim Middle Ages, as Chretien de Troyes recounts in this tale written for one of the most powerful ladies in Europe, Marie de Champagne. I thought a graphic novel version of YVAIN would entertain and inspire those kids who, like me, are fascinated by the myths of the Middle Ages -- but who are also questioning those myths at the same time.
Look for Yvain: The Knight of the Lion on March 14.