Chivalry is not dead, it has its own dictionary.

When you are a librarian, occasionally you need to do what is known as "weeding the collection." This just means going through all the books and taking out anything that is outdated, superseded by a better edition, doesn't make any sense, etc.

The other day while weeding, I came across a book called A Dictionary of Chivalry. Unfortunately, this otherwise delightful book has very little to do with anything in our curriculum, is not really scholarly at all, and we have lots of other books that cover the same subject much more thoroughly in case someone ever did need to know about medieval table manners. Sadly, out it went. On a whim and as a small experiment yesterday, I put a note on the book before I sent it to my coworkers who would take it and the rest of a cart full of books out of our catalog. This was the note:

I was sitting in my office this afternoon, minding my own business, when one of them came downstairs and gave it to me for free. Greatest note ever!

A Dictionary of Chivalry is mostly delightful for the completely sweet and oh-so-1960's illustrations. Here is a sampling of my favorites (of which there are far too many to post. I just found the Robert (the Bruce) entry and those are great).

This is the illustration for "Outlaws." It doesn't make any sense except that this is supposed to be Robin Hood and Maid Marian. I think I would've gone with something else for outlaws, but it's sort of sweet.

This one is supposed to illustrate courtesy.

I have no idea what's going on except some sort of three-man dinner party. I think the guy on the left is telling the middle gentleman, "Now, wait just a moment, I'm going to say something courteous before I knock you with this ladle. I suggest thinking twice before scratching your fleas at the table, if you please." The man on the right, on the other hand, looks as though he's very annoyed and is going to applaud his dinner companion sarcastically. "Gee, Lancelot. You've got roast pig grease on your face again. I know I always scratch my head while eating a medieval Twinkie, great job, champ."

This is the infant John FitzThomas, Earl of Kildare, being rescued by a gorilla as an infant. I promise that is what the caption says and I did not make it up. I will scan it for you if you like. A gorilla. Rescuing baby Earl FitzThomas of Kildare. From a burning castle.

Why were the Middle Ages so much cooler than the 1980s? I was never rescued by a gorilla from a burning castle. So lame.

This is baby King Henry VI. Isn't he cute?

I do not know why there is a helmet in this picture, nor why said helmet has a bird growing out of the top of it. "Fashion" would be my guess. It's fierce.

This is meant to be Sir Bedevere, of Round Table fame. This image fits almost perfectly with the mental image I have of Sir Bedevere, developed largely through repeat viewings of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

"And that, my liege, is how we know the world to be banana-shaped."
"Hmm, oh yes. I see."

If you were or are an English major, you will probably have read The Song of Roland. If you are thinking of becoming an English major, you will probably have to read The Song of Roland. You might have read it in high school - you will need to read it again. This is a visual representation of... some part of Roland's song. Evidently the part when he broke into his song upon his cross-eyed steed.

The steed seems to be auditioning for a part in "A Chorus Line."

I feel this one (Blue Garter, Order of the) requires more explanation than I can provide on my own, and frankly, the illustration is much funnier than the actual description, so I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

This book was 100% worth every penny.

1 comment:

Lindsaygail said...

Wow, I love these illustrations. How come I never find anything this cool on our discard carts?