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VINE VOICEon 15 April 2003
Malory's series of tales based on the Arthurian legends are a great read. Don't be put off by the fact that this is in Middle English - the language is very easy to read, perhaps even easier than Chaucer, and the edition is provided with a good glossary. Essentially, if you can read Shakespeare, you probably won't have much trouble with this. It's a great starting point for anyone wanting a gentle introduction to the delights of medieval English literature, or for Arthurian enthusiasts. The notes and introduction are good, and the edition also reprints William Caxton's preface to the text. This is available in a modernised version from Penguin, but please give this edition a try first - it's great value and you gain so much from reading it in the original language.
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on 7 April 2010
This book contains all of Malory's renditions into Middle English of the Arthurian cycle. His English is easier to understand than Chaucer's, and anybody with a fair knowledge of English will understand it. In addition, Malory really does know how to write: we have here a truly riveting read. A wordlist at the back of the book translates most (but not all) terms that have either changed in meaning or are now obsolete.
Unfortunately, this is a paperback. The paper and print quality are not exactly top notch either, although the binding is decent. Thus only 4 stars.
All in all, this is highly recommendable. If you're interested in the tales of Arthur, Merlin, Perceval, etc. then this is a must read.
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on 5 January 2012
This arrived on time and was in excellent condition. Malory, 'Complete Works', edited by Vinaver, compresses the three-volume edition into one volume. It contains the unabridged text, with an introduction and some explanatory notes. Readers looking for more detailed notes should refer to the three-volume edition.
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on 27 April 2003
Wow! I was so amazed with this collection! I was made to read this as part of my Medieval Literary Culture course, ans I have to say that it's possibly the best thing I've ever read. I know that sounds a bit far-fetched, but Malory really is quite inspirational! Being a bit of an Arthurian addict, I'm obviously biased (the Works are the full "history" of King Arthur) and although the battles are somewhat repetitive, it really does evoke a strong feeling of patriotism while reading it. Once you've come to grips with the language, you're thrown back into the Middle Ages with Arthur and his knights -literally as if you were really, really there! Rich with symbolism and metaphor as well as plain narrative, there is more to Malory's works than meets the eye. A fascinating read.
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on 11 February 2013
This is just too funny. Get drunk, read in funny accent = best night ever. Who cares if it was serious when it was published? Reader response theory up in this beeyach!
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on 27 November 2015
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on 2 May 2005
As a piece of literature, perhaps this is indeed worth 5 stars. As something to read for entertainment, I'm sorry, but I've had to give it 2 (and to be honest, I'm feeling generous).
I bought this book because I wanted to read the Arthurian legends, but I'm no scholar of old English and have found myself really struggling with the language. Yes there's a glossary so you can look up unfamiliar words, but I found it wanting: apparently, the editor must consider many of these old words obvious in their meaning, despite often radically different spelling from today's equivalents. Some words do sound vaguely similar and so might warrant a guess, but it'd be nice to have some confirmation! There are a fair few sentences that, even with the glossary, I didn't manage to decypher, and for me that's something of a spoiler. Indeed, at one point I read on, fairly convinced a character had just been killed, only to find him chatting away merrily a couple of paragraphs later.
I freely admit that there are portions that I find "very easy" to read once I get into the flow of it, but all too often I come up against a word that needs looking up, and this stop-start reading doesn't sit comfortably with me.
Another reviewer says that the battles get a bit repetitive; I'd certainly agree with that: the last bit I read had at least half a dozen consecutive instances of someone smiting an enemy and nicking his horse for a chum. Thoughtful, yes; an enthralling read, no.
To summarise, I suppose I'd say that if you want to study the language and style, get this book, but if you actually want to read the legends, get a version in modern English (or - please don't hit me, fellow reviewers - a retelling).
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