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Le Morte D'Arthur [Paperback]

Thomas Malory , John Matthews
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1 2006
"A complete, unabridged edition of one of the most famous chronicles of the Arthurian legends comes with new illustrations. Edited by a lifelong scholar of the legends, the book includes some widely accepted corrections."--Publishers Weekly

The epic story of King Arthur never fails to stir the imaginations of readers everywhere, and this outstanding illustrated version showcases original artwork that creates a unique vision of Camelot. Some of these breathtaking watercolors and pen-and-inks have hung in museums, including the depiction of Tintagel Castle, the Sword in the Stone, Merlin and Nimue, and Guenevere rescued from the stake. With remarkable accuracy, Anna-Marie Ferguson captures every nuance of the historical period, from the knights' shining armor to the intricate architecture to the English forests. Yet she also revels in the fantasy, with mysterious and magical landscapes, misty and moonlit. These legends have always been a treat for the mind--and now they are a feast for the eyes, too.

About the Artist
Anna-Marie Ferguson studied graphic art at Southampton College in the UK, and her work has appeared in various galleries and books--particularly volumes of fairy tales. Anna-Marie served as the "Arthurian expert" on the recent NBC mini-series, Merlin.

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Review

"A beautifully illustrated new edition...Anna-Marie Fergsuon's pictures convey the mythical element superbly." -- The Daily Express, London U.K. Sept 9th 2000

"Anna-Marie Ferguson's fine representations of scenes and characters from Malory are likely to become iconic...and worthy of there historical importance..." -- Arthuriana, Journal of the International Arthurian Society, N.A.B., Alan Lupack

'this quite lovely edition notable for the illustrations of artist Anna-Marie Ferguson.The sylvan romance, the chivalry, even horror is here (in the art). -- The Globe and Mail , Martin Levin Dec 23rd 2000

About the Author

John Matthews has made a 30+ year study of Arthurian literature and is the author of 50 books on this and related topics. He enjoys a world reputation as a leading Arthurian authority, is an active member of the International Arthurian Society and a lecturer in North America, UK and Europe. Anna-Marie Ferguson is a Canadian-resident British artist whose interpretations of mythological subjects have been much acclaimed. Her work for this project has gained praise at a series of exhibitors in North America including TV and press coverage.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars only required arthurian reading Sept. 9 2003
Format:Paperback
This is the most comprehensive and beautifully written account of the Arthurian saga. It traverses the entirety of Arthur's exploit filled life from birth to his "death", as well as the stories of the most illustrious knights of the Round Table. There is not a single piece of the Arthurian legend (or history to some people) that is not recounted and recounted masterfully. It contains everything, numerous tournaments, conquests of Roman emperors, the tale of the Siege Perilous, and of course, the quest for the Holy Grail. This book will immerse you in the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table to the point where you can hear the swords clashing.
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Format:Paperback
The Bible is the most sold book in print. Unfortunately, a bit of garbage is the second Malleus Maleficarum. However, I wonder if this book comes in third. One wonders if Thomas Malory had any idea how this book would still be a steady seller today? Ah, to the days of writing what you WANTED, in the manner you wanted without an editor coming in and telling you need to remove 20,000 words!
This book has been reprinted endless and one can see why it will continue to be so. And considering all this was writing by hand, not in WORD, it must have taken years to finish. Of course, these days more of his works are translated, but that does not dim the power of his imagery or the wonder of the tales he created. Face it, if Arthur were around he would call Malory his PR man!
Le Morte D' Arthur is likely the best known and most influential work of the Fifteenth Century. The whole Camelot mania began with this book and continues to this day. Why, because it raising values we all would like to achieve, at time when chivalry, honour and justice were valued.
This one volume, complete and unabridged edition is superbly illustrated. A Grail Lore Library is incomplete without a copy. I am sure, even the avid lore addict would love a new copy as a gift for likely is old one is well used.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beloved Legend That Is Now Collected Wonderfully April 28 2004
Format:Paperback
This is such a beautiful book to own. This really is the definitive King Arthur novel, honestly I wouldn't pick up any other version of the story, but this.
Hundreds of books have been written about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, but this is just a must have.
Beautiful illustrations and in original fourm.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book! Jan. 13 2005
By Plotinus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The core story of Arthur: how he defeated the Saxons and saved the Britons is completely absent in this late Medieval canonical version of the Arthur story. What we have is an English re-telling of the tales the French told about him, ultimately going back to Welsh sources. Arthur is clearly portrayed as English in this re-telling, and has all the apparatus of a 15th Century monarch, such as Parliament, tournaments etc. In a sense, this book summarizes the whole cultural experience of the Middle Ages! This particular edition of the book is absolutely beautiful! It has nice, large print and is decorated brilliantly throughout with paintings of the legends with a lovely Medieval-Celtic-mysterious theme.

The main storytelling strategy employed is that of the unexpected: there are always knights, ladies, giants, wizards, sorceresses and strange beasts popping up, requiring the knights to take some kind of action.

The stories can get quite crude at times, both sexually and otherwise (the parts involving giants and maidens is quite disturbing actually!), and we have to throw out our traditionally held ideas of what knighthood is all about in order to appreciate what is really at work here. 'Gentle maidens' are not 'gentle' in the modern sense, but rather 'powerful/upper-class' and seem to have a penchant for slaying their enemies and causing just as much damage as the knights do: HARDLY the sterotype we are accustomed to regarding ladies in the time of 'knights in shining armour'. The 'sword' fights tend to end up with a grappling match on the ground where one knight finally removes the other's helmet and beheads him with a knife. This is raw and ready stuff, and it will show you to what degree children's books in our culture have led to a popular gross misunderstanding of the original tales.

The author, Malory, whoever exactly he was (and he CERTAINLY was NOT a criminal) must have thought of Arthur as an English hero deserving an English edition recounting his deeds. Researchers say that he stuck to re-telling the plot of the French stories, as if he thought he were getting at the 'truth behind the legend' to tell the 'true' story of Arthur. He seems to have had first hand experience in battle, as the fighting in the book is very realistic and he seems particularly interested in telling us about the thousands of fights in detail. A major part of the story is how Arthur conquers Rome: something that none of us would ever believe was there unless we had seen it written in the book! Merlin, believe it or not, dies (well, not exactly dies, but is out of the story anyways) near the very beginning of the book! Arthur has sex with anyone's wife he wants to! There are so many things in this book that you won't believe could ever have been written in this, THE tome of Chivalry! The Middle Ages is always in style, and it is always incredibly popular. This is the kind of book you can enjoy many times, and it is moreover REAL Medieval fantasy stuff, not the pulp-fiction-fantasy stuff so common at every bookstore. Read this book written by a real knight about 'real' knights! The spirit of the Middle Ages is one we can all enjoy and benefit from in our much more complex modern lives.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beloved Legend That Is Now Collected Wonderfully April 28 2004
By BADASSGIRLHEAD - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is such a beautiful book to own. This really is the definitive King Arthur novel, honestly I wouldn't pick up any other version of the story, but this.
Hundreds of books have been written about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, but this is just a must have.
Beautiful illustrations and in original fourm.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The once and future king... Sept. 9 2005
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Sir Thomas Mallory was a great one to write the adventures of King Arthur and his knights - a knight himself, he led a life of intrigue and adventure, albeit not one that always lived up to the ideas of chivalry he penned at the heart of the Arthurian legends. Mallory did not invent Arthur; he is one of the principle medieval chroniclers, having time (he was in prison with nothing else to do, after all) to set down in prose stories he'd heard throughout his life. These were popular tales, not always told in the same way with the same details, as is true of most oral legends and transmitted stories, much to the later frustration of scholars and readers. The earliest printing of Mallory's stories had his authorship suppressed by Caxton, one of the better-known publishers of the time.

The earliest Arthurian legends date back as far as the late Roman times in Britain. Controversies abound, but many have settled on a late Roman or Romano-British general named Arturius - however, given the linguistic nature of the name (it is derivative of ruler or leader), it is impossible to know if this was in fact a name or a title, and the legends may be compilations of the acts of many leaders bearing the name. There was also a Welsh leader with the name/title Arddu, 'Dark One', who is sometimes conflated into Arthurian legend. Arthur was celebrated in the pre-Norman times for the order and stability he represented; Arthur was celebrated in post-Norman times for his campaigns against Saxons. Arthur continues to be an intriguing character, today reminiscent of ancient mysteries as well as pagan and new age ideas as well.

In any event, Mallory doesn't attach specific dates to his tales. The book actually consists of many tales. The first is entitled 'The Tale of King Arthur', which introduces the figures of Merlin, Gawain, Uwayne, Pellinore, Morgan le Fay (the Celtic war goddess Morgana, dressed up as Arthur's sister) and others, and includes the sword-in-the-stone event. While this text has been modernised by Keith Baines, there are certain crucial lines left in Mallory's English, including this most famous one:

Whoso pulleth oute this swerd of this stone and anvyld is rightwys kynge borne of all Brytaygne

Following this tale, Mallory includes many of the famous tales in Arthurian legend as stories more or less complete in themselves, but still linking to the other tales. 'The Tale of Sir Lancelot du Lake' is a knight's tale indeed, with no fewer than twenty horseback duels back-to-back. 'The Tale of Sir Gareth' is a similar spirited tale, less well known. 'The Book of Sir Tristram of Lyoness' makes Tristram and Iseult, famous by other writers as well, into lovers, this time with a more happy ending than usual. The lesser known 'Tale of Arthur and Lucius' describes battles and skirmishes with the emperor, but never really captured popular imagination.

Mallory saves the best for last, with three major tales - 'The Tale of the Sangreal', the Holy Grail; 'The Book of Sir Launcelot and Queen Gwynevere'; and finally, 'Le Morte D'Arthur'. The tale of the Holy Grail continues into the present day in various fashions; here is contains strange glosses of the Old and New Testaments, as well as a good number of miracles, as one would expect from the Grail. The last tale, the death of Arthur, is probably the most famous, and the best written.

Even though an English knight, the courtly fashion was after a French design for many centuries after the Norman conquest, and this French influence in notable in the stories, from their titles to their plots and characterisations, including the places Mallory uses.

This edition is illustrated beautifully by Anna-Marie Ferguson who studied art at Southampton College, and is known for similar graphic representations in collections of fairy tales, a literary form not dissimilar to the Aruthurian saga. John Matthews has provided a good edition of the text of Mallory, complete and unabridged here.

Arthur lives on into the modern world and beyond.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars On the Illustrations July 14 2011
By Juss - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm no expert on Malory, but I do have a fair amount of experience in comparing modern redactions of Arthurian texts as an interested amateur. I have nothing bad to say about this text. While it is not up to my current gold standard--that which appears in the Norton Critical Edition--neither is it as basely unworthy as I consider the Keith Baines bastardization of Malory to be.

My chief reason for logging in here is to comment on the illustrations. I'm frankly surprised at the great amount of positive response to the illustrations for this volume. To make it clear, since Amazon has a habit of mixing and matching reviews for all editions, regardless that they may differ greatly--this is in regard to the John Matthews-edited "Le Morte D'Arthur," with illustrations by Anna Marie Ferguson. I find Ferguson's illustrations serviceable at best. They attempt to be pretty in a soft-focus, New Age way that's appropriate to tarot decks (which, coincidentally, she has also illustrated) and the kind of pretty, feel-good art people buy at Target and Michaels to go with their decor. To be perfectly fair, most Arthur-art ultimately has this quality--of tending to be more illustratively pretty than graphically representative of the events in the text.

This is all a matter of personal taste and preference, I suppose. For what it's worth, my favorite illustrators for the stories are N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, and, on account of his deliberate attempt to be strange and different, Aubrey Beardsley.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic epic to be cherished forever Oct. 3 2004
By Antiquarian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Knights...wizards...fair ladies...castles...magic.

We've all grown up with it and we've always loved such tales. The Arthur Legend will always be among my favourites and one of the most popular and familiar stories ever. Sir Thomas Malory tells this fantastic legend from beginning to end in beautiful language. Le Morte D'Arthur is everything-- action, adventure, romance, fantasy, drama...and it's full of good old-fashioned lessons and morals. It's a beautiful reminder of forgotten ways, countries, people and events that are brought to life in our imaginations. I certainly would recommend this book to anyone who loves classic legends, exciting characters and epic wars and love stories. Also to anyone who is very patient. It can take a long time to get through 896 pages.
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