Edward Kirby Putnam (essay date 1900)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Lambeth Version of Havelok," Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, Vol. XV, No. 1, 1900, pp. 1-16.

[In the following essay, Putnam examines the version of Havelok the Dane found in the Lambeth manuscript and considers its origin, pointing out possible debts to both French and English sources, omissions of supernatural and clearly fictitious elements, and its unusual sequence.]

Of the several abridgments of the Havelok story in the chronicles of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, that which is interpolated in the Lambeth MS. of Robert Mannyng of Brunne's translation of Peter de Langtoft, is the longest and in many respects...

(The entire section is 5626 words.)

Harald E. Heyman (essay date 1903)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Historical Allusions," Studies on the "Havelok-Tale," Upsala, 1903, pp. 64-91.

[In the following excerpt, Heyman attempts to trace many historical allusions in Havelok the Dane to their sources.]

After his short analysis of the English Romance ten Brink says: "Im Havelok haben wir festen geographischen Boden unter uns;1 doch fehlt auch hier die Brulcke, die von den Personen und Ereignissen der Fabel zur Geschichte oder zur alterer Volkssage hinüberführte—zum wenigsten fehlt eine Brücke, die wir uns ohne Gefahr anvertrauen könnten."2

This is true not only of this English version of the tale but of all the...

(The entire section is 9394 words.)

Alexander Bell (essay date 1923)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Single Combat in the L 'ai d'Havelok," in Modern Language Review, Vol. XIII, No. 1, January, 1923, pp. 22-8.

[In the following essay, Bell discusses the relationship of the L'ai d'Haveloc to Gaimar's account of the story, particularly concerning the battle between Haveloc and Odulf.]

The suggestion has been made in a recent number of this Review1 that the account of the meeting of Canute and Edmund Ironside at Olney, given by Henry of Huntingdon and others, is not due primarily to a simple misunderstanding of the phrase 'comon togædere' of the A.S. Chr. s.a. 1016; that a tradition of an earlier and equally decisive single...

(The entire section is 3349 words.)

Robert W. Hanning (essay date 1967)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Havelok the Dane: Structure, Symbols, Meaning," Studies in Philology, Vol. LXIV, No. 4, July, 1967, pp. 586-605.

[In the following excerpt, Hanning praises Havelok the Dane for its unified structure and consistent symbolism which work together to clarify and support the main meaning of the work.]

The so-called Matter of England romances—the middle English romances whose stories are drawn from the sagas and traditions of pre- and post-conquest England—1 have yet to receive their due share of attention from critics of medieval literature. Earlier investigators of King Horn, Havelok, Athelston,2Richard the...

(The entire section is 7596 words.)

M. Mills (essay date 1967)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Havelok and the Brutal Fisherman," Medium Aevum, Vol. XXXVI, No. 3, 1967, pp. 219-30.

[In the following essay, Mills concentrates on the characterization of Grim and compares him to earlier examples of the brutal fisherman type.]

When Havelok first meets with the sons of Grim the fisherman, he gives them a vivid account of his early sufferings at the hands of Earl Godard, the regent into whose hands he had been committed. In this he lays particular stress on the fact that Grim had refused to carry out Godard's command that he should drown the boy:

'Deplike dede he him swere
On boke, pat he sholde me bere
...

(The entire section is 5664 words.)

Judith Weiss (essay date 1969)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Structure and Characterisation in Havelok the Dane," Speculum: A Journal of Mediaeval Studies, Vol. XLIV, No. 2, April, 1969, pp. 247-57.

[In the following essay, Weiss credits Havelok the Dane with subtle structure and strong characterizations of not only its hero, but also its villains and minor characters.]

There are three principal versions of the tale of Havelok extant: the "Haveloc episode" in Gaimar's Estoire des Engleis,1 the Lai d'Haveloc,2 and the romance of Havelok the Dane.3 Of the three, the English poem is the longest and the most literary treatment. It is possible that its...

(The entire section is 5361 words.)

Dieter Mehl (essay date 1969)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Havelok the Dane," in The Middle English Romances of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1969, pp. 161-72.

[In the following excerpt, Mehl praises Havelok the Dane for its emphasis on direct speech, its vivid and elaborate descriptions, its use of a narrator as an intermediary between story and reader, and for its ambitious structure and unity of theme.]

… It seems at first sight as if Havelok the Dane and King Horn are only slightly different variations of the same type of tale and they are therefore often grouped together in literary histories. They are both among the earliest Middle English...

(The entire section is 4448 words.)

John Halverson (essay date 1971)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Havelok the Dane and Society," in The Chaucer Review, Vol. 6, No. 2, Fall, 1971, pp. 142-51.

[In the following essay, Halverson compares and contrasts the French and English versions of the Havelok romance, contending that they reflect some large differences between French and English societies.]

Havelok the Dane is one of a very small number of Middle English romances that still retain their charm. It is no monument of medieval literature, to be sure, but it endures; it is incomparably more readable than other popular romances such as Guy of Warwick or Beves of Hamtoun, which represent a vulgarization of the genre. Havelok,...

(The entire section is 3505 words.)

David Staines (essay date 1976)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Havelok the Dane: A Thirteenth-Century Handbook for Princes," Speculum: A Journal of Mediaeval Studies, Vol. LI, No. 4, October, 1976, pp. 602-23.

[In the following essay, Staines contends that Havelok the Dane is primarily an idealized biography of a ruler perfectly embodying the best kingly characteristics, and that the author's political motive in writing the tale was to advise the king of the wishes of his subjects.]

The thirteenth-century English romance of Havelok the Dane is unique among the medieval accounts of Havelok's career because it is more than a retelling of Havelok's life. Whereas many romances rework traditional material...

(The entire section is 11624 words.)

George B. Jack (essay date 1977)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Date of Havelok," Anglia, Vol. 95, 1977, pp. 20-33.

[In the following essay, Jack takes issue with Herlint Meyer-Lindenberg's attempt to date Havelok the Dane more exactly, considering and rejecting all six of his arguments in turn.]

Though it would generally be accepted that the Middle English romance Havelok must have been in existence before 1300, there has been little agreement on any very precise date of composition; and indeed an agnostic view of the matter was taken in the edition by Skeat and Sisam, who concluded that it was impossible to determine how much before 1300 the poem may have been composed.1 Nevertheless, there...

(The entire section is 4972 words.)

John M. Ganim (essay date 1983)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Community and Consciousness in Early Middle English Romance," in Style and Consciousness in Middle English Narrative, Princeton University Press, 1983, pp. 16-54.

[In the following excerpt, Ganim describes a repeated pattern found in Havelok the Dane in which the epic gives way to the realwhich in turn yields to comic synthesis. Ganim further explores the use of geography to evoke distinctions between social classes.]

A number of scholars have described the change in society, sensibility, and form that surrounded the transformation of epic into romance.1 Most studies, however, have concerned themselves with the elegant Old French...

(The entire section is 8048 words.)

W. R. J. Barron (essay date 1987)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "King Horn and Havelok the Dane," in English Medieval Romance, Longman, 1987, pp. 65-74.

[In the following excerpt, Barron considers the relative popularity of King Horn and Havelok the Dane and contends that while the realism of Havelok has more appeal for today's readers, that was not necessarily true in the case of its original audience.]

… In the earliest of the English romances, King Horn (c. 1225), history is so throughly absorbed into folklore that, though the period of the Viking raids provides the violent social context of the action, specific historical events and characters cannot be identified. The...

(The entire section is 4913 words.)

Sheila Delany (essay date 1990)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Romance of Kingship: Havelok the Dane," in Medieval Literary Politics, Manchester University Press, 1990, pp. 61-73.

[In the following essay, Delany sketches the historical background of Havelok the Dane, summarizes its plot, and asserts its importance in describing the beginnings of social mobility and change in thirteenth-century England.]

In claiming romance for the 'mythos of summer', Northrop Frye associates the genre with 'wish-fulfillment dream'. At the same time, Frye introduces an important qualification to the utopian or fantastic dimension of romance: the quest-romance 'is the search of the libido or desiring self for a fulfillment...

(The entire section is 6010 words.)

Thorlac Turville-Petre (essay date 1994)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Havelok and the History of the Nation," in Readings in Medieval English Romance, edited by Carol M. Meale, D.S. Brewer, 1994, pp. 121-34.

[In the following essay, Turville-Petre argues that Havelok the Dane is better considered as history than romance and that this was the way it was viewed by contemporary readers of the chronicles.]

The establishment and exploration of a sense of national identity is a major preoccupation of English writers of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries: who are the English; where do they come from; what constitutes the English nation? The English chronicles of the period, Robert of Gloucester's...

(The entire section is 5561 words.)