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The Death of King Arthur Paperback – Apr 30 1972
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About the Author
The author of The Death of King Arthur is unknown, though it is generally thought he was a Frenchman, probably from Champagne writing around 1230-35.
James Cable was educated at Exeter and Nancy Universities and holds a Ph.D. in Old French. He was subsequently a lecturer in French at London University.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
After Master Walter Map had put down in writing as much as he thought sufficient about the Adventures of the Holy Grail, his lord King Henry II felt that what he had done would not be satisfactory unless he told about the rest of the lives of those he had previously mentioned, and the deaths of those whose prowess he had related in his book. Read the first page
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Because it was originally written as a sequel to the Lancelot and Grail portions of the cycle, certain knowledge is assumed for the reader. The reader is assumed to know that Arthur is the King, that Lancelot is his boldest knight, and that the Round Table is recovering slowly from a long and very destructive Grail Quest. Without the lengthy process of interlacing adventures between Lancelot and Gawain or Bors and Gareth, it can be difficult for the true weight of the story to come across to the uninitiated.
Cable's translation is workmanlike and readable, and serves as a worthy introduction to this classic tale until such time as the recent English translation of the entire cycle (Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation, edited by Norris J. Lacy) is available in an affordable paperback series. (I bought the hardback at an exorbitant price per volume myself.)
This particular volume, written anonymously in the 13th century is significant because it is the first prose telling of the Arthurian tales. All previous versions had been in verse. This book covers only the fourth section of the story, beginning after the knights' return from the quest for the grail. It serves as a sequel to other volumes written by Chrétien de Troyes.
The tale itself was familiar to me, but nonetheless enjoyable. Tournaments, secrets, wounded knights, scorned lovers, fire, battles, and tragedy. I've never particularly cared for Lancelot as a character and prefer versions where Arthur is the hero of the story, as opposed to this one where Lancelot takes the pedestal of heroism throughout. Overall I found it to be an engaging read, and particularly enjoyed reading the sections about the Lady of Shalott, the poem by Tennyson being one of my favorites.
Penguin Classics FTW.
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