The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and The English Gentleman by Mark Girouard

The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and The English Gentleman by Mark Girouard lands on the shelves of my shop, where it will be found in my Social History section.

New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1981, (First Edition) Hardback in dust wrapper.

Contains: Black & white photographs; Colour plates; Black & white plates; Photographic end papers & blanks; Title page vignette;

From the cover: Toward the end of the eighteenth century, England was witness to a fascinating phenomenon: the revival of the mediaeval code of chivalry. Until well into the twentieth century, the metaphors of Camelot and the mediaeval knights concept of honour, bravery, service and self-sacrifice took on new meaning and shaped the character of English society. The adaptation of these ideals as an appropriate mode of behaviour for contemporary gentlemen was reflected not only in the art and culture of the period, but in its intellectual and political life as well.

In this readable and often witty volume, Mark Girouard traces the impact of the revival of chivalry in all its various aspects including politics, sport, literature, art, love and war. His narrative ranges from the novels of Walter Scott and the poetry of Tennyson to the art of the Pre-Raphaelites; from the popularity of fancy-dress balls and knights in armour to the ill-fated Eglinton Tournament, the ultimate re-enactment of the mediaeval fantasy. Among his cast of characters are Victoria and Albert, Carlyle, Disraeli, and many other well (and less well) known Victorian figures. Although much of the book centres on the upper classes, Girouard illustrates how the infatuation with chivalry spread to the middle classes through the public schools and the Boy Scouts. He discusses how the traditions of courtly love were adapted for Victorian and Edwardian use, and how the concept of playing the game which loomed so large in the code of conduct of modern gentlemen ultimately derived from that of mediaeval knights.

Throughout the book Girouard traces the influence of chivalry on politics. In the concluding chapters, he poignantly shows how the very concepts of glory and honour that made war acceptable, and even desirable, dissolved in the trenches of World War I.

Very Good in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Price Clipped. Gently faded at the spine of the dust wrapper which is a little tanned and spotted on the verso. Text complete, clean and tight.

Green boards with Gilt titling to the Spine. 312 pages. Index. 10¼” x 7¾”.

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