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The History of the Kings of Britain Paperback – Jan 27 1977
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About the Author
Very little is known of Geoffrey of Monmouth. He seems to have lived for a time in Oxford and in 1151 he became Bishop Elect of St Asaph, North Wales. He was ordained at Westminster in 1152. According to the Welsh Chronicles he died in 1155. Lewis Thorpe was Professor of French at Nottingham University from 1958 to 1977. He has published many books and articles on Arthur, both on the French and English traditions. He died in 1977.
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Top Customer Reviews
While Geoffrey's source has yet to be proved, in his own introduction, Geoffrey claims to follow a reliable and ancient source given to him by a friend. The lack of evidence to support this claim, coupled with the supernatural elements incorporated into The History of the Kings of Britain, makes it difficult for the modern reader to place complete trust in the text as a historical account of Britain's history. The text is, however, rich in historical value as from his writing, one can deduce much about the political structure of Britain in that time frame, as well as the sociological makeup of the nation. The emphasis on politics, war and international relations, form a rough picture of Britain's power system, and the lengthy stories revolving around his characters give the reader insight on the lives of the British nobility.
The History of the Kings of Britain deserves as much credit (if not more) for its literary value as its historical one. While Geoffrey considers himself a historian, his artistic talents, fluency and extensive use of vocabulary bring his accounts to life, turning the text into an enjoyable literary piece. Especially in key passages (in particular those concerning Arthur), Geoffrey makes very fine and detailed points, often narrating livelily.Read more ›
The book is, for the most part, event driven. Geoffrey describes one battle after the next after the next. It is almost certain that he will name each and every important character just as he will explain what happens to them at one point or another. He takes great care in describing how the battles take place. You can be sure he will never miss a name. Although these and other little details about battles and events are interseting, they do not make up for the lack of insight into the characters lives, especially Arthur's.
Throughout the novel it is possible to get a feeling that Geoffrey continues to try and convince us that Arthur is the noblest and most generous of men. Arthur's actions, however, don't always seem to be so. Was his generosity true at heart, or was it a form of subtle bribery to keep his people's and allies favor? Why was Arthur so eager to enter battle, one after another, despite losing so many of his mens lives? Geoffrey does a good job of "telling" us of Arthur's greatness, but does a poor job of "showing" it.
Despite these minor flaws, The History of the Kings of Britain is, if not historically acurate, at least entertaining. The constant battles, change of events and the casual appearance of supernatural powers gives the book that old, medieval feel. As for the text, it is not difficult to understand. Some effort is required to completly comprehend the events taking place, but it's nothing too time consuming. Personally, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about conquest, battles and anything relating to King Arthur.
Most recent customer reviews
Geoffrey of Monmouth is the man who really started the "King Arthur Craze" of the 12th & 13th centuries. Read morePublished on July 7 2003 by J. Angus Macdonald
Geoffrey of Monmouth's chronicle of the Britons (mostly in England) reads a bit like Herodotus though on a lesser scale. Read morePublished on July 3 2003 by SJM
I highly recomend Geffory of Monmouth's "History of the Kings of Britain". This book explors the first rulers of Britain to the time when the Saxons took over the island. Read morePublished on June 14 2003
As to this book's worth to either History or Literature is, in my mind, seriously in doubt. To anyone wanting to read this be forewarned that it reads as a list of: who invaded... Read morePublished on Dec 14 2002 by Kindle Customer
Geoffrey of Monmouth's History traces the kingship of Britain from its mythical origins after the fall of Troy to the beginning of Saxon rule. Read morePublished on Dec 20 2000
This work, as another reviewer has mentioned, is not a history in the modern sense. It is full of fanciful tales: characters who assume the shapes of others, fights with giants,... Read morePublished on Oct. 25 2000 by Nathaniel Grublet
A great book for anyone interested in historical fictionPublished on Jan. 22 2000 by patrick mcfarland