Sunday, May 5, 2024

The Art of the Triptych (Brust)

So, for those unfamiliar with the triptych, as Brust uses the term this is a rhetorical tool inspired by a feature in medieval church decoration. A medieval triptych is a large central painting flanked by two smaller panels that complement the central image in both style and theme. By analogy Brust's triptych focus on a central figure, with the subsidiary figures chosen for the way they highlight specific elements all three share in common. 

For example, one cd bring together a trio of tempresses centered on Guinever as she appears in The Fall of Arthur, flanked by Lady Bertilak from Sir Gawain & the Green Knight and the Corrigan from The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun. Another triptych cd portray women trapped is failed marriages: Erendis (The Mariner's Wife), Aredhed (Silm), and Miriel (ibid). Or yet another of warrior women, headed by Eowyn (who best exemplifies the role within LotR), flanked by Galadriel in her virago role in her early days (as depicted in UT), and Haleth (also Silm), who unlike the other two remains a warrior-maid throughout her life. 

The possibilities are myriad. I look forward to seeing what scholarship this scholarship inspires.

--John R.

P. S. I'm not aware of anyone else working along these lines these days, but it's interesting to note that one of the earliest books on the Inklings, ARTHURIAN TRIPTYCH by Charles Moorman, used this as its central image in his 1960 book on Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, and T. S. Eliot, though it's too long since I read it for me to remember any details.  --JDR

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