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The Once and Future King Paperback – 2 Dec 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; Complete ed edition (2 Dec 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006483011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006483014
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

‘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 the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

T.H. White's masterful retelling of the Arthurian legend is an abiding classic. Here for the first time all five volumes that make up the story are published in one volume, as White himself always wished.

Exquisite comedy offsets the tragedy of Arthur's personal doom as White brings to life the major British epic of all time with brilliance, grandeur, warmth and charm.

The complete edition

'The Sword in the Stone
The Witch in the Wood
The Ill-made Knight
The Candle in the Wind
The Book of Merlyn'

“Magnificent and tragic, an irresistible 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


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Pen Ultimate on 7 Jun 2011
Format: Paperback
Bored with the novels we had to study for A levels, I wandered into our school library one lunch time and picked a book at random to read. It was The Once and Future King, and I'd never heard of it. I was entranced from the first page, I think because it had its own distinctive spirit; not quite like any literary style or trend. Whatever, forty-two years later, it remains my favourite book of all time. White pulls off a very difficult feat for an author: to tell a classic tale in a personal way. For there's no doubt much of the views and passion expressed through the characters belong to White. Yet it works, I think because much of his essential soul matched the subject matter. This was no case of an author finding something he believed could sell, or which would make him a literary name (although I suppose White might have wanted those things too); this was an author strongly driven to tell his tale. I don't think it's any accident that so many films have been based on this book; what White adds to Malory's structure are characters we care about.

The book is not actually that long for the huge scope of life it covers. If this was a modern fantasy, it would probably be stretched out at least three times the length. Also, the four books are very different, matching the period in Arthur's life they cover. So, we have the child-like wonder underpinning The Sword in the Stone, through to the utter, adult tragedy of The Candle in the Wind. It's not without faults but somehow these add to its charm; they're part of White's passion, sometimes unchecked, and that's no bad thing when the story-telling is so brilliant.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 July 2001
Format: Paperback
The telling of this story was an epic undertaking for T.H.White, who adapted it from Mallory's Morte d'Arthur. The first book, The Sword in the Stone, is rather protracted and the fact that most will be familiar with the plot tends to put off many who would read it. However, the four remaining books are a revelation; White's glorious and rich narrative paints a vivid picture of twelth century adventure, chivalry, treachery, despair and ultimately, tragedy. This is an absolute must read, for it is of a style that one rarely encounters today, written by a literary genius and exceptionally intelligent man. White is over-looked to a great extent in modern literature. Read this book and wonder why.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Brian Bollen on 14 July 2011
Format: Paperback
To call this book a children's fantasy is to do it a huge injustice. I am 54, I have been a lifelong reader of the Arthurian legends,and studied it as a special subject at the University of Glasgow.

I have just finished reading The Once and Future King, and can say hand on heart that I am glad that I didn't try to read it when I was younger. It's a challenging read, but extremely rewarding. I laughed out loud on a number of occasions, not least when certain knights returning from their Grail quest made references to Galahad as an insufferable prig that had simply never occurred to me before. I always took the notion that he was some kind of angelic virgin for granted, without thinking about how that would make him something other than human.

And that's the thing with this book. It makes the characters human. TH White puts flesh on the familiar bones in a way that will never leave me. I had never before thought of Lancelot and Guinevere's affair lasting decades. The description of how Lancelot took on 14 knights when discovered in Guinevere's bedroom, and trounced them, despite starting off armed only with his dressing gown would sit well in any top modern action adventure. And the line that he would have killed them all, not just 13 of them, but for the one that ran away, is highly reminiscent of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, suggesting that the behaviour of Brave Sir Robin, who ran away, has its roots in the description of Mordred's bravery in the face of a resurgent Lancelot.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 4 Jan 2006
Format: Paperback
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 archaeologists could tell of what England was like in the Middle Ages.' This tale, 'The Once and Future King', is a classic of English literature, crossing the ages to be a tale both of modern times in the language and treatment of characters as well as the misty, mystical past with its subject matter.
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.
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