Novelist reinvents Robin Hood as medieval gangster

Wed Jul 14, 2010 1:43pm EDT
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By Martin Roberts

GIJON, Spain (Reuters) - Robin Hood was a medieval Don Corleone rather than the altruistic renegade aristocrat known to millions around the world, says British novelist Angus Donald.

Donald is working on a quintet of Robin Hood novels, the first of which "Outlaw" was published in July 2009. The second in the series is titled "Holy Warrior," set during the Third Crusade in the 12th Century and due out in Britain on July 22.

He spoke to Reuters about the Robin Hood legend and the latest film version on the sidelines of the Semana Negra (Noir Week) crime writing festival in Gijon, northern Spain, which is one of the biggest literary fairs in Europe.

Q: What makes your Robin Hood so different, and why?

A: "I wanted to make an authentic Robin Hood. I felt that basically we'd had this rather sanitized, whitewashed version of Robin Hood, given to us by Hollywood and books.

"I started to read the ballads, the earliest one of which is from 1450, called "Robin Hood and the Monk," and I discovered a much darker, more violent much less palatable Robin Hood to the one we're used to.

"We would not recognize the do-gooding, thigh-slapping, quick-trading gentleman-archer we know from fiction. I think he would have been closer to a homicidal mugger.

"He is a dark and violent man. He does, however, have a code of honor. I found the hook when I was watching the "Godfather" film for the umpteenth time and I was looking at Don Corleone, who behaves very much like a feudal baron."   Continued...