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The Once and Future King (1940)
de T. H. White
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An excellent book marred by the questionable last volume which takes a confusing step into an entirely new direction. Despite this, the series reaches such highs particularly in the new third and fourth books that they are must reads. ( )
The Sword in the Stone
I finished the first section and I’m loving it so far. I wasn’t expecting it to be so playful. It’s full of adventure, wisdom, and characters we all know and love. I can’t wait to see Wart continue to grow and become a leader. I think its place as a classic comes from its unique take on the famous King Arthur tale. The book humanizes him and shows his coming of age. The sections where he turns into different animals and learns more about how the world works were wonderfully done. I loved all the adventures as they fought Madame Mim, snuck into Morgan Le Fay’s castle, and got to know King Pellinore and his questing beast. The appearance of Robin Hood, Maid Marian, and all the merry men were delightful!
Wart’s relationship with his foster brother Kay is interesting. They are so close but their stations in life mean they will have different paths. There’s a scene at the end, where Sir Ector who has raised them both asks his son, Kay, if he truly drew the sword from the stone. He does it in such a gentle and trusting way, even though he already knows the truth. It was such a beautiful moment of parenting.
“The best thing for being sad... is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then - to learn.”
The Queen of Air & Darkness
This section felt so different from the first, much less playful. I didn’t love the cruel parts with the cat and unicorn, but it was fascinating to see King Arthur start to question whether Might Means Right was true. I loved seeing him consider other options and propose his round table. I knew the twist at the end but felt like that plot point was a bit rushed. It feels like the stage is set for the next important pieces of the story.
The Ill-Made Knight:
This section was huge, but I love that we got to see a deeper character arc with Lancelot. He traveled the spectrum from hero to lover to madman, and finally penitent & proud father. There was a lot to process, but one thing that stood out was Arthur's realization that forcing people into peace through violence sends the wrong message and isn't sustainable. It was interesting how he continued to ignore his wife's infidelity at all costs.
Now here’s where I am frustrated with the story. In the entire book, so far, there’s been almost no interesting female characters we get to explore Maid Marion in the first book actually had a bit of a personality, but we only got to see it for a minute. Guinevere‘s portrayal is completely unrealistic. This queen, who is part of a groundbreaking new government system is supposed to be petulant, jealous, and petty. Instead of showing us a complicated picture of unexpected passion and complex loyalties, we see her pitch fits when she doesn’t get her way and completely ignores Lancelot’s moral struggle. It just wasn’t believable to me. I’d like to see her story through a different author’s lens. *After finishing the fourth book, I'm glad to see she matured a bit!
The Candle in the Wind
What a beautiful story! I loved how each of the 4 books are so different in tone and theme. They work in concert, growing in depth, to create a powerful picture of a monarch attempting to create an entirely new form of government. There were scenes in this final book that had me on the edge of my seat. When Guenever and Agnes are scared Mordred is outside the door and when Lancelot and Jenny see the handle start to move, the tension is perfect. I loved the depth of Arthur's sorrow as he realizes what his flaws have led to. I was surprised that the climax comes when the main characters are much older. I loved that it wasn't about infatuation, but decades of deep friendship and love through so many seasons. It added a gravitas to a story that I had previously pictured as more of a Romeo and Juliet dalliance. Mordred's story is so tragic. He's broken because of his upbringing and it's hard to blame him for the selfish monster he becomes. The book has sections that drag at times, but taking it as a whole, I loved it. It was funny and heartbreaking, full of clever quips and philosophical questions. I'd love to read it again in the future now that I know what to expect.
“Was it the wicked leaders who led innocent populations to slaughter, or was it wicked populations who chose leaders after their own hearts?”
The Book of Merlyn
I agree with so many others who have said this is the worst of the series, but I did love seeing the characters’ stories wrapped up. I also got to read the ant and swan sections so many mentioned from The Sword in the Stone. My version didn’t have it in that section. Apparently it was originally in this book, but was shoved into the first book in later editions. Heavy-handed on the messaging, but I’m still glad I read it.
T. H. White's retelling of Mallory has been a favourite of mine since childhood. It's a book that I don't think could ever be published today. it veers wildly in what it is doing, at some points being a comic farce, and at others being a polemic on the evils of war, and revels in its anachronistic authorial voice. It is a glorious blend of Mallory fanfic.
The four books are very distinct in tone.
The Sword in the Stone is the one everyone remembers as the jolly Disney movie, young King Arthur as Wart having amazing adventures turning into animals and meeting Robin Hood and finally pulling the sword from the stone.
The Queen of Air and Darkness is a book of two halves, the slightly anaemic book about the start of King Arthur's reign, and him trying to teach everyone War is Bad by killing lots of them in a war, and the utterly weird book about Morgause and her children up in the Orkneys, her neglect and their love and jealousy and the heartbreaking killing of the unicorn. That scene captures better than anything else I've read that feeling of mostly innocently trying to do something for good acclaim, and then having it all go horribly wrong and tarnished for reasons that are mostly beyond you.
Then it is the Ill Made Knight. Ah, White's Lancelot! Physically ugly, and tormented by his own dark feelings into trying to be whiter than white! Ah, the forbidden love between him and Guenever! The messed up misery between him and Elaine. And all the sadnesses that fall out from it. And of course the Quest for the Holy Grail, for the Knights that have chosen the better part. It is weird reading this as a grown up and slotting things into neat boxes I didn't have when I was a child. 'Oh, that is rape, it is a bed trick and they got him drunk', 'oh, Lancelot is having a nervous breakdown'. We change, the deep stories stay the same but sound different.
And finally the Candle in the Wind, the price that has to be paid for it all, the breaking of the table, war and misery, father against son, Arthur tortured by spending his life creating a fair law, and then having to turn it against those he loved.
It's epic. T H White has a lot of views that are of his time, but for all the ones we wouldn't cherish now there are many we would, and the story has a power beyond all of them.
I actually listened to the first story- The Sword In The Stone- in this book , then the audio died. Bad cd. So I returned it to the library and someday will finish, because I was enjoying it.
Long and meandering, this retelling of the myth of King Arthur is a beautiful fantasy story about a young boy and the lessons, trails and tribulations he encounters along his way, as he tries to introduce Law, Order and Civilization to his beloved country. Written during WWII, White takes apart the nature of man in this story and looks very deeply and carefully at why men fight wars, and how as a species we can one day walk away from it all. With a very distinct cast of characters and a beautiful way of writing (sometimes funny, more often than not engaging), this book is definitely not just for fans of Arthurian legend, but also those looking for something that will make them think a little about the Human Condition.
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Pertany a aquestes sèries
The Once and Future King (compilation 1-4)
The Magic World of T.H. White: Mistress Masham's Repose, Book of Merlyn, Once & Future King [Box Set] de T. H. White (indirecte)
The Witch in the Wood de T. H. White (indirecte)
The Ill-Made Knight de T. H. White (indirecte)
The Sword in the Stone de T. H. White (indirecte)
The Candle in the Wind de T. H. White (indirecte)
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Wikipedia en anglès (2)
T. H. White's masterful retelling of the saga of King Arthur is a fantasy classic as legendary as Excalibur and Camelot, and a poignant story of adventure, romance, and magic that has enchanted readers for generations. Once upon a time, a young boy called "Wart" was tutored by a magician named Merlyn in preparation for a future he couldn't possibly imagine. A future in which he would ally himself with the greatest knights, love a legendary queen and unite a country dedicated to chivalrous values. A future that would see him crowned and known for all time as Arthur, King of the Britons. During Arthur's reign, the kingdom of Camelot was founded to cast enlightenment on the Dark Ages, while the knights of the Round Table embarked on many a noble quest. But Merlyn foresaw the treachery that awaited his liege: the forbidden love between Queen Guenever and Lancelot, the wicked plots of Arthur's half-sister Morgause and the hatred she fostered in Mordred that would bring an end to the king's dreams for Britain--and to the king himself. "[The Once and Future King] mingles wisdom, wonderful, laugh-out-loud humor and deep sorrow--while telling one of the great tales of the Western world."--Guy Gavriel Kay
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)823.912Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Modern Period 1901-1999 1901-1945
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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