Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 70% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now
Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Death of King Arthur, 14 Oct. 2013
This review is from: The Death of King Arthur (Paperback)
Following his acclaimed translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Simon Armitage's new book - The Death of King Arthur - marks a welcome return to the world of the Round Table. While the poetic Sir Gawain has always been a popular classic of Arthurian lore, The Death of King Arthur is Armitage's translation of the Alliterative Morte Arthure, a four-thousand line poem written sometime around 1400, which has arguably been neglected in favour of Sir Thomas Malory's prose Morte D'Arthur. However, despite having previously been eclipsed by its more straightforward cousin, the Alliterative Morte Arthure is a sterling, emotive example of the medieval Arthurian revival and with The Death of King Arthur Simon Armitage has done an excellent job of translating and revitalising this important text for a modern audience.

The Death of King Arthur is perhaps a surprisingly brutal and bloody tale. Unlike the Arthurian Romances envisioned by Chrétien de Troyes and the noble, somewhat sanitised adventurers described by Malory, The Death of King Arthur deals with the cut and thrust of warfare and politics and so sees King Arthur firmly returned to his warrior roots. The poem begins with an overview of the kingly career of Arthur and of his household in the castle of Carlisle. Clearly these are chivalrous, courtly men that inspired the majority of the Arthurian legends but they are also something more.

King Arthur is very much a military leader and one who is quicker to take up his sword that other interpretations of his character would suggest. A long list of all the "castles, kingdoms and countless regions" that Arthur has taken through conquest is presented while the King and his Knights enjoy a feast in honour of recent achievements. The celebratory mood at Court is, however, quickly soured when an emissary arrives from the Emperor Lucius. Since Britain as a whole is still technically subject to the authority of Rome, the Emperor demands that Arthur swear an oath of fealty and resume the payment of taxes to the Empire.

This is a challenge to his authority that Arthur cannot overlook. He and his army therefore embark on a sweeping and largely successful military campaign which takes them almost to the gates of Rome. While Arthur's prowess as a military leader is emphasised, he is also given a number of chances to show his noble side and so will break off from merciless conquest to avenge the honour of a noble woman stolen away by a fearsome giant. However, in The Death of King Arthur he is not the wise ruler of other interpretations of the legend. This Arthur is consumed by his idea of kingly honour and cannot take his eyes from the big picture of worldwide conquest in time to see the danger that he faces at home. King Arthur is here defeated as much by his own ego as by the plotting of his enemies.

No doubt unsurprisingly given its title, the Alliterative Morte Arthure was written in alliterating lines [so, containing words that begin with the same sound or letter] which harked back to Anglo-Saxon poetic composition and so presented some particular challenges for the translator.

It is a rarely used style and the necessary constraints that come with it make producing a coherent narrative, especially in a poem of this length, potentially difficult. In his own illuminating introduction to The Death of King Arthur Simon Armitage discusses the approach he had to take in order to maintain the alliterative style while at the same time translating the text in a way that would captivate a modern audience. There seem to have been two principle difficulties in producing this translation - the original author's lack of consistency as to characters and locations and also his tendency to get a tad carried away with the alliteration in a way that fails to advance the story - but Armitage has overcome both of them.

The Death of King Arthur is a powerful retelling of a poetic masterpiece. Armitage has mastered the alliterative line and so more than does justice to the "mass of riotous life which courses through the narrative's veins."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]


Review Details

Item

4.7 out of 5 stars (16 customer reviews)


3 star
0

2 star
0

1 star
0

£7.99 £6.39
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,696