In June I wrote about the non-profit Literature Alive! project operated by Desideria Stockton and Royce Sommer, and their Canterbury Tales Virtual Pilgrimage. They now have a new literary adventure for people to enjoy.
Beowulf and King Arthur is hosted on the Lingnan Drama Island by Brant (MrK Kas). The title itself pretty much explains what the installation is about: an exploration of the legends and times of Beowulf and King Arthur. And if this sounds an odd combination when one considers Beowulf is an Old English epic set in Scandinavia while King Arthur really came to literary prominence as a romantic figure in the 11th and 12th centuries, keep in mind both are firmly rooted in Anglo-Saxon times, and thus the pairing is apt.
As with Canterbury, Beowulf and Arthur is an interactive investigation of both legends, this one set within a huge castle structure. Entering the courtyard of this will bring the visitor to a famous image: Excalibur stuck fast in a great stone. Paths leading either side of this serve as introductions to the two legends – left for Beowulf, right for Arthur. From here, one can explore on foot, passing through the Beowulf section and on to the Arthurian section, or a teleport board provides access directly to Arthur, and one can then progress to Beowulf from there.
Given this is interactive piece, there is a lot to click on throughout; with Beowulf, blood spatters on the floor of the castle hall and on the tables provide information on his legend, while visitors can also learn about Anglo-Saxon times in Britain, paganism and Christianity (which sit as uneasy partners in the Beowulf legend) by clicking on wall displays, flowers, and so on.
Moving through the hall leads the visitor increasingly toward Arthur and Arthurian legends, notably Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a reference to Myrddin (Merlin) prior to his fusion into Arthurian tales, and thence a climb up to Arthur’s hall, where sits the round table and an opportunity to learn about the code of chivalry.
Both elements of the installation include quizzes and puzzles and the opportunity to win prizes (keep an eye out for the quiz chests scattered around). As with Canterbury, this is an engaging exploration of literature, and one that appears to be part of a bigger project. Outside of the castle sit a series of Tudor style houses which look to be in the process of being set-up to offer insight into other works of literature; this is something I’m hoping to talk to Desi and Royce about in the near future.
In the meantime, if you fancy the opportunity to find out more about two classic mythologies and the times in which they are set, Beowulf and King Arthur offers an interesting and easy-to-follow means of doing so.
- Beowulf and King Arthur (Rated: General)