Thursday, February 25, 2010

Book Review: The Death of King Arthur, by Anonymous

Penguin Classics books are always a hit with me.  Every time I decide to pick up one of these books, I come out completely satisfied.  It was no different with this last purchase.
The Death of King Arthur, by Anonymous 

Sitting quaint in my favourite used book store, this tiny book ( at only $1.99) was just waiting for the right person to pick it up and give it a chance.  I’m so glad I did!
The Death of King Arthur, is the famous king's tale written by an unknown author - ‘but most probably a Frenchman from Champagne, writing around 1230-35.’ This in itself got me so curious, that I just had to read it- if not for the story but at least for the flavor of reading something so old. I love the feeling of period writing because it really sets the mood for the piece.  This one did not disappoint.
In The Death Of King Arthur, we read about all the great knights: Lancelot, Sir Gawain, Hector, Mador… Not only do we get the exciting battles fought for principle and reputation, there is so much gallantry, respect, honor and chivalry that make this book a precious piece of literature.  Arthur’s beautiful Queen is at the center of this story, causing much dilemma between both Arthur and Lancelot.
The book is straightforward and although there are no flowery parts or picturesque moments or scenes, in its purity, this story does not need embellishing.  What a refreshing read! Seemingly told by the author, as though he were narrating, I came to accept abrupt changes in the story that simply went like this:   For example,
‘And now the story stops telling of Bors and his company, and returns to Lancelot…’
As strange and cut-off as this may seem, something that would never work in today’s writing, but considering the source and the time, it still works perfectly in this novel.
All I can say is that I really enjoyed reading this amazing tale, although simplistic in its form and told in such a straightforward manner, The Death of King Arthur managed to capture my interest and my heart. It made me remember why it is that I love Penguin Classics so much.  Simply beautiful.

I will be entering this read in the Four Month Reading Challenge.


Rheanna said...

I've have read many King Arthur-esque novel but this one intrigues me as well because of the anonymous writer. I'll have to check this one out next time I'm prowling through the bookstore!

Nina said...

I love reading about King Arthur and this one sounds very nice. Great review.

Lucy said...

Hi Rheanna- When I read that it was by an anonymous author, that's what intrigued me too. It's faxinating that this book is a translation from the one written in the 1200's.

Hi Nina- This version, although very straightforward was excellent in my opinion. Thanks!

Lizzie said...

Very cool Lucy, the anonymous has me intrigued. I would be very interested in this one too. Good book score.