Thursday, February 16, 2012

#65 New Authors: Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory

This is the 7th book that I've read, out of my goal of 10, by an author I've never read before. Although originally written in English, it was written long enough ago that the spellings and writing style are a bit antiquated and so the Kindle only provides a translated version - in this case translated by Keith Baines. Mr. Baines explains that he does his best to change as little as possible about the storyline, and from the dryness and lack of details that modern readers prefer, I can only assume that his claim is true.

Le Morte d'Arthur translates to "The Death of Arthur," however Sir Thomas Malory's collections of Arthurian stories rarely deal with the legendary king. The majority of this Kindle collection tells the stories of Arthur's most legendary knights and their deeds.

I'd love to say "noble" deeds, but that adjective just doesn't fit the lustful, vengeful, violent deeds that are described. Most of the knights are Christian, but they are quick to anger, slow to forgive and, if they do repent of their actions, will quickly forget their regret and repeat previous offenses. There's lots of pre-marital sex, loads of violence, friends fight friends and brother fights brother, uncle plots to murder his nephew for sleep with his wife, more than one wife has a paramour outside of her husband - if they made a movie true to Sir Malory's story line it would probably tank because it would completely explode our imaginary ideals of Arthur's Golden Age.

It made for fascinating reading. If you don't mind that the reading can be a little dry as the various outcomes of jousts are recounted, and you aren't partial to getting descriptive detail, this translation is a surprising and intriguing read. I haven't had this much fun dusting fairy dust off of a story since reading the original Grimms!

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