The Real Game of Thrones? Mythical Dimensions of Medieval Tales


  • Racha Kirakosian



Looking at the mythical dimensions of medieval narratives, we can see how
medievalism, which is not automatically a purely creative preoccupation with the
past, needs our critical attention. The show Game of Thrones operates on medievalist
fantasy elements which are grafted onto a long tradition of appropriating the past
and using it as an imaginary canvas. Medieval tales themselves functioned on a mythical
plane where the line between claims to historical accuracy and creative leeway is
blurred. Using the concept of “mythical thinking” as expounded in Ernst Cassirer’s
work, we can see how the medieval narratives Mélusine and Duke Ernst deploy
mythical elements. Investigation into aspects of femininity in conjunction with bestiality
on the one hand and orientalism on the other with the help of Cassirer’s
“mythical thinking” elucidates the ways in which cultural and historical appropriation
work. Reminding the reader of Umberto Eco’s as well as J. R. R. Tolkien’s view
on medievalism, the author – in light of politicised forms of the preoccupation with
the medieval past – calls for critical medievalism.