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The True History of Merlin the Magician$
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Anne Lawrence-Mathers

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780300144895

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300144895.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The True History of Merlin the Magician

Anne Lawrence-Mathers

Yale University Press

This book discusses the different perspectives that describe Merlin the prophet-magician, whose powers have fascinated audiences from the Middle Ages to the present day, and have emphasized his difference from ordinary humans. His most familiar incarnation is that of a “mage” of great power, who can appear and disappear at will, read minds, and change physical appearances. The book argues that there are no fewer than three perspectives in which Merlin has been viewed: historically, prophetically, and fictionally. The possibility of these perspectives intertwining, influencing each other, and drawing upon one another is acknowledged, as is the potential for authors to play with the conventions of their chosen genres. The main point here is showing that Merlin the early medieval prophet-magician was a real historical figure. Without this reality, he could not have achieved the near universal fame that made him a world figure.

Keywords:   prophet-magician, Merlin, Middle Ages, mage, real historical figure, world figure

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