Monday, December 10, 2018

The Once and Future King

by T. H. White

I've gone through many fixations in life--enjoying a season of enthusiasm for this, that, or another thing. One I had back in college was with the Arthurian legend. It was my ambition to collect every retelling of the story. Like most of my ambitions, my dedication wasn't up to the task. I purchased a handful of books for my library, but nowhere near all of them. And, of course, my rereading any of these fine books doesn't happen too often. Too many (other) books, too little time.

But every now and then, I do crack open an old favorite. I think I read The Once and Future King only once before, back when I purchased it in the ancient 80's. Recently I decided to give it another read, feeling a bit guilty as it stared at me from the shelf. It was a pleasant surprise to find the book better than I remembered. Mr. White retells the saga of Le Morte D'Arthur, vastly expanding it with more story and humor. (Though, to be honest, it's been years since I read Le Morte as well.) He chronicles King Arthur's life from childhood to the eve of his final battle, as well as taking forays into the lives of Lancelot, Guenever, and Gawaine. It's definitely a 20th Century book, however, as there are a number of side comments alluding to the events and mores of the middle of that century. I'm curious if younger readers who came of age in later decades would find the references as amusing as I did. Still, I don't think human nature has changed all that much, be it in the 6th, 14th, 20th, or 21st Century. I bet the story would still hold up. But don't take my word for it, read it yourself and make up your own mind.

LibraryThing link

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