Once And Future King Paperback – Jan 16 1997
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'Magnificent and tragic, and irrestible mixture of gaiety and pathos' The Sunday Times 'This ambitious work will long remain a memorial to an author who is at once civilized, learned, witty and humane' Times Literary Supplement --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Terence Hanbury White was born in 1906 in India, where his father was a member of the Indian Civil Service, and educated at Cheltenham and Cambridge.
The author of poems, books about hunting and other sports, and some detective stories, he found fame and success with The Sword in the Stone (1939), the brilliantly imaginative retelling of King Arthurs early life. He continued the story in The Witch in the Wood (1940) and The Ill-Made Knight (1941). In 1940, he wrote what was believed to be the final volume of Arthurian saga, The Candle in the Wind. The four books were revised and published in 1958 as a single volume titled The Once and Future King.
A further manuscript concluding the story was, however, discovered among T.H. Whites papers at the University of Texas at Austin after the authors death in 1964. This is The Book of Merlyn, written in 1941, the book that completes a series described by The Sunday Times as magnificent.
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Top Customer Reviews
Get this book, now! You will not regret it. I never thought I could love any book more than the Lord of the Rings, but then i read the Once and Future king.
Like many classics, this book inspired both great love and great irritation. It is a classic retelling of the Arthurian legends - White does not add to the legends with his own additions, but rather sticks closely to manuscripts and stories that have gone before, most notably Thomas Mallory's 'Le Morte d'Arthur', also considered a classic. The book is divided into four major sections: 'The Sword in the Stone', 'The Queen of Air and Darkness', 'The Ill-Made Knight', and 'The Candle in the Wind'. The overall tone of Arthur's legend goes from hopefulness to tragedy, as even the final conflicts become unresolved, hence the idea that Arthur will come again.
The title of this work comes from the supposed inscription on Arthur's tomb: HIC IACET ARTORIVS REX QVONDAM REXQVE FVTVRVS. The sweep goes from Arthur's childhood to the final battle with his son Mordred. Like many works, this is both a piece of entertainment as well as a political commentary (think 'The Wizard of Oz' here) - Mordred's thrashers are Nazi stormtroopers, for example. This book was the product of the time just before World War II. Merlin's preaching of just war theory (the only acceptable reason for going to war is to prevent another war) is apropos of the time.Read more ›
T. H. White goes to great depths to properly craft his characters, and remains true to his depictions throughout the five books comprising his depiction of the Arthurian legend. All the famous figures - Arthur, Guenevere, Lancelot, and Merlyn, to name a few - are given a new lease on life, and for the first time, we are given a good look at their personalities, from fears to secret desires. White reminds us through his ingenuity and silver tongue that even the greatest of people are fallible, as witnessed in the fall of Lancelot. The reader is given, for the first time that I can recall, a deep look into the thoughts of each character, and what drives their actions throughout the course of each novel.
White's derivations from traditional Arthur also give his work a strikingly original air, casting old characters in occassionally new roles while still largely following the legend. His work with Merlyn struck me as particularly interesting: a man travelling backwards in time, who knows already the sad fate of Arthur yet who does his best to steer Arthur in the proper direction. Of special note is Merlyn's outlook on 'might' versus 'right', and the struggles Arthur has with this issue throughout the tenure of his reign.
On the whole, it is well worth the read, especially if one is a fan of the Arthurian legend. My only complaint comes in the scope of White's narrative; he is, at times, very long-winded, supplying several expansive passages and descriptions that are rather superfluous, and excessive. If you can suffer such things, however, I would highly recommend this brilliant story.
Most recent customer reviews
Fabulous book but Kindle edition has far too many typos. Wish I knew why.Published 6 months ago by Judya
So much has been written about this book not sure what else I can add. The book starts off very childlike in its narrative and grows into more explicit adult themes advancing the... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Tim Gordon
This book is a toss up between itself and The Three Musketeers as my favourite book of all time. A definite must read.Published on July 14 2011 by toysparta
Re-reading this book recently, I was struck by the way having artwork of King Arthur and Merlin on the cover almost spoils the beautiful and complex images T H White conjures up. Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2011 by Donna from T'ranna
Currently reading my very worn copy of "The Once and Future King" I realised what a beautiful book it is and how T.H. Read morePublished on June 11 2010 by George F. Fry
One commentator once said, 'T.H. White has a genius for recreating the physical conditions of the past; the child who reads him will learn far more than all the historians and... Read morePublished on Feb. 9 2006 by FrKurt Messick
I found this to be a terribly slow book to read. The frequent narrative asides (many extremely anachronistic) were a major distraction and prevented me from settling into a rhythm... Read morePublished on July 13 2004 by Andrew W. Johns