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Idylls of the King

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  7,877 Ratings  ·  170 Reviews
Illustrated reprint of earlier 1939 Heritage Press, Norwalk, Connecticut edition. Illustrated by Robert Ball. Slipcase. It seems distinguishable from the New York Heritage Club edition.
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published 1967 by The Heritage Press, Norwalk, Connecticut (first published 1885)
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Dec 01, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a beautiful, old edition of this book. I wish I could show you.

On the book marker, in old-fashioned cursive, it says,
Merry Christmas
To Lottie

This is a truly beautiful work. Enchanting. Mesmerizing, really.
There is just one little thing though...
I'd heard rumblings of this book being misogynistic. Loving Tennyson as I do, I refused to believe it. Basically, I read the book like this:
"Well, that's not necessarily sexist...Okay, it is. But, surely he didn't intend...Okay, he d
Jun 19, 2009 Terri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read my softcover copy so many times it is falling apart. I really need to get a nice, illustrated, hard cover. I read this book several times a year. And sob hysterically at the end so that I can hardly finish. The saddest lines for me are (spoken by Arthur to Guinevere visiting her in the nunnery before the final battle with Modred):

"Thou hast not made my life so sweet to me,
That I the King should greatly care to live;
For thou hast spoilt the purpose of my life."

The agony in those lines
Laurel Hicks
“The city is built
To music, therefore never built at all,
And therefore built forever.”
Ah, Tennyson! It feels like coming home. This book is music to me.
Abigail Hartman
Tennyson's poetry is some of the most beautiful I've encountered (admittedly, not saying much, because my acquaintance with poetry is slight): his turns of phrase and the pictures he paints are wonderfully evocative, and there's an eerie mysticism in stories like "The Holy Grail." Even the fatalism -- as the idylls begin in spring and descend into a thoroughly gloomy autumn -- draws you in. Of course, since the unifying theme is the affair between Lancelot and Guinevere and the chaos it brings, ...more
Free download available at eBooks@Adelaide.

From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3:
Alfred Lord Tennyson's epic poem The Idylls of the King, narrated by Tim Pigott-Smith and adapted by Michael Symmons Roberts.

Geraint & Enid still rock, although today their story would probably be featured on an episode of Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry? on the Investigation Discovery channel.

Ain't no wimmens gonna put up with a control-freak like Sir Geraint. Just sayin'...

Sep 08, 2011 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Just finished this one for my Victorian Literature seminar. I will admit that the prospect of reading a 300+ page long poem was daunting, but well, well worth it. I have always admired Tennyson's work. This one is a bit different though. The language is not as resonant, but the imagery is spectacularly beautiful. Also, lots of lovely moments of universal truth within the story. They pop out of nowhere sometimes. The characters have a liquid, uncertain quality, bringing a whole lot of ambiguity t ...more
Jun 15, 2008 SarahC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arthurian, favorites
This book was every bit as beautiful as I could imagine. I had previously loved and read The Lady of Shalott. Idylls, however, is a testament to his love and knowledge of Arthurian legend.

You'll likely walk away from this book with lots of favorite passages. And you might fall in love with the characters of this legend all over again.

Lancelot - "...a dying fire of madness in his eyes"

Percivale - "Had heaven appear'd so blue, nor earth so green, For all my blood danced in me, and I knew That I s
Aug 17, 2016 Mike rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Goodreads ate my first review so eventually (maybe) something will be fit in here.

I wish all the poems were written in this style. (h/t to MookBarks)
David M.
Apr 22, 2011 David M. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are certain books, or authors, that don't hold up to modern political correctness. Mark Twain is one of them; Huckleberry Finn is constantly under threat to be banned from American schools. Robert E. Howard's protagonists routinely face villains who embody the worst of early twentieth century stereotypes. But Tennyson, in Idylls of the King comes under fire for his female characters in his series of epic poems concerning King Arthur and his valorous knights. What is not generally kept in m ...more
Bryn Hammond
Dec 13, 2012 Bryn Hammond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As usual, I thought right up there the short story of Balin, who is to blame for his own tragedy ('My violences, my violences!').

Darker than I had expected and gutsier. I think I decided to read this at last after I saw a book on Tennyson's battle poetry. How he wrote 54 battle poems and had a genuine feel for the 'heroic ethos' of ancient fiction to which he was devoted. Fair enough, I thought. Tried a couple of short ones: his Boadicea is as bloody as she came, and I throbbed to 'The Revenge:
Ben Loory
Feb 01, 2014 Ben Loory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it's beautiful; tennyson just has the best ear. the whole thing just demands to be read aloud, and not just read but almost sung. storywise it sags a bit in the middle but really pulls it out at the end. (it's not really a single epic, more a collection of linked poems (and a collection written over a period of 25+ years.)) my favorites were "Gareth and Lynette" (by far) and "Lancelot and Elaine." strangely i think the weakest is the one about the holy grail.

Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and
This particular book is not an edition of Tennyson's work, Idylls of the King, as a whole. It's an abridged version, essentially, with selections from Tennyson's poetry contextualised by brief prose. The reason I have this edition is, of course, the illustrations included, those done by Gustave Doré. Many of them are really spectacular, capturing perfectly the mood of the pieces and scenes.

Tennyson's poetry is, of course, powerful and problematic, but I'll review that in itself another time.
Rima Rashid
Feb 07, 2016 Rima Rashid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crying. Crying again? How many times have I read the death of King Arthur in several retellings and yet his final moments still cause my heart to cry out in despair? Guinevere and Lancelot's exposed affair, the fall of the Round Table, Mordred's all comes crumbling down.

Loved the way Tennyson evolved the legend but at the same time kept the 12th century atmosphere intact.
Mike (the Paladin)
I have more read "in" this than read it "through" at once. I found I loved Tennyson at a time when I had, quite a bit of time on my hands. Tennyson has a voice unlike any you'll find in contemporary writing. In this and other verse he conveys action and emotion. He seems obsessed with misunderstanding, rumor and false assumptions.

Excellently expressed. Enjoy.
Clif Hostetler
May 17, 2012 Clif Hostetler rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson was etched into my memory as a famouse classic from an early age thanks to the card game, "Authors." So now, sixty years later, I finally got around to seeing what the story was all about. The final nudge to read it came from a book group so I had the pleasure of discussing the book with others.

So what did I learn? It's the story of King Arthur in blank verse and iambic pentameter, about a hundred pages worth. It's divided into twelve different stories
“If Malory's "Le Morte D'Arthur" is the skeleton of Arthurian literature then Tennyson's "Idylls of the King” is its flesh and blood”, I’ve seen this praising phrase in several places and it’s quite true. This is an epic poem containing twelve loosely connected stories/poems narrating the adventures and romances of the King Arthur and the knights of Camelot, so what’s not to love.

Each section deals with story a knight or several knights of King Arthur's court. Their adventures and romances are
[Name Redacted]
"A deathwhite mist slept over sand and sea:
Whereof the chill, to him who breathed it, drew
Down with his blood, till all his heart was cold
With formless fear; and even on Arthur fell
Confusion, since he saw not whom he fought.
For friend and foe were shadows in the mist,
And friend slew friend not knowing whom he slew;
And some had visions out of golden youth,
And some beheld the faces of old ghosts
Look in upon the battle; and in the mist
Was many a noble deed, many a base,
And chance and craft and stre
I started out kinda dreading this novel because of a) it's thickness and b) its confusingly written self, but as I read it and (cough used some helpful "guides") I have grown to long to read it. It is exciting and interesting and sophisticated. As of now (I am in Balan and Balin) I like it. (November 14)

I have now finished this novel and I enjoyed it. My favorite stories were Gareth and Lynette, The Marriage of Geraint, Geraint and Enid, Lancelot and Elaine, Pelleas and Ettare, and mm yes, those
Roland Allnach
Mar 03, 2013 Roland Allnach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A venture of epic poetry, this is Alfred Lord Tennyson's take on the Arthurian legends. An incredible read in its own right, but, when taken in relation to Malory, Tennyson's work highlights the passion, tragedy, and Romanticism that sometimes was left at a simmer in Malory's work. Tennyson's work is more 'fantastic' than Malory's, and his descriptions of Camelot are as awe inspiring for the reader as they are for the characters he follows. For those familiar with Malory, Tennyson does not paral ...more
Nov 01, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could give you a hundred literary reasons to read these poems. I could talk about how Arthur mirrors Tennyson's own time. I could point out that Tennyson is one of the greats. The real reason why I love this book, why I love these poems is simply the poem "Gareth and Lynette". There are times when a reader feels truly connected to an author. Not in the sense of the written word being read, but in the sense of learning something about the author that also applies to the reader. For instance, le ...more
Jo Woolfardis
The edition I own is not the complete work, nor is it in the original order. It features prose that details what each section entails, which was helpful in a sense but unnecessary in another. The illustrations were divine and the story itself was delightful, but this is not the edition one should read.
Sarah McCauley
Sep 14, 2009 Sarah McCauley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, novels
Made up of twelve pieces, some of which are absolutely phenomenal and a couple of which are really dull.
Benji Cossa
Sep 17, 2007 Benji Cossa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful. Late in the game for the Arthurian reader (19th C), but he surely keeps the flame alive. Really inspirational. If the Arthurian Vulgate Cycle were the blues, he'd be... someone awesome.
Dec 28, 2007 Jodi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I. Hated. This. Book. So. Much.
Jan 17, 2013 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this collection. Tennyson has a way with words that fits with Arthur's story perfectly!
Kelsey Bryant
Dec 28, 2015 Kelsey Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Idylls of the King is a compilation of narrative poems about King Arthur and his companions, based off Sir Thomas Malory’s seminal Le Morte d’Arthur of the fifteenth century. Tennyson published the first poems, “Enid,” “Vivien,” “Elaine,” and “Guinevere” in 1859, and seven more in the years following until the last one, “Balin and Balan,” came out in 1885.

You may be like me and a bit confused about what “idyll” means:
literary piece about charming rural life: a short work in verse or prose, a p
Apr 18, 2014 Keith rated it liked it
It’s been a decade since I first read this flawed epic the whole way through. I consider it flawed for several reasons. First, although it is called the Idylls of the King, Arthur never really comes to life the way Tennyson so successfully brings to life Ulysses and Tithonus. (Or the way Achilles and Ulysses breathe under Homer.) The Holy Grail and The Passing of Arthur are the best sections because they reveal Arthur the most.

I’m not familiar with the original Arthur tales, but these idylls ar
Timothy Darling
Dec 08, 2011 Timothy Darling rated it it was amazing
The Idylls are a wonderful presentation of the legend of King Arthur. I think they are worthy of special note because so seldom has the legend been treated by a great English poet. Not even Shakespeare, for some reason, considered it a worthy topic.

That said, the cycle is uneven in its presentation, sometimes lofty, sometimes cryptic, sometimes atmospheric and sometimes just plain hard to follow. Tennyson shows very well the height, transition, and degradation of the round table, but it bears wi
Jun 25, 2013 Adele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So this was a reread for a paper I am working on, so I know the text pretty well. One of my favourite things about it is that it is easy to read in episodes and each section has its own voice. I always find something new with each reading and my feelings towards each of the characters changes subtly over time, particularly as my critical focus moves from idyll to idyll. While this Arthuriad is a dramatic shift from those readers familiar with the medieval texts and the more overt stle of current ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Wrong description for edition 2 12 Oct 05, 2013 06:33AM  
  • Arthurian Romances
  • The Mabinogion
  • The History of the Kings of Britain
  • Complete Works
  • The Ring and the Book
  • The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Arthurian Legends
  • A Shropshire Lad
  • The Faerie Queene
  • The Quest of the Holy Grail
  • Tristan: With the Tristran of Thomas
  • The Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne
  • The Idylls of the Queen: A Tale of Queen Guenevere
  • Goblin Market and Other Poems
  • Parzival
  • Troilus and Criseyde
  • The Lady of the Lake
  • The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights
Alfred Tennyson, invariably known as Alfred Lord Tennyson on all his books, was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, the fourth of the twelve children of George Tennyson, clergyman, and his wife, Elizabeth. In 1816 Tennyson was sent to Louth Grammar School, which he disliked so intensely that from 1820 he was educated at home until at the age of 18 he joined his two brothers at Trinity College, Cambrid ...more
More about Alfred Tennyson...

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“Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of: Wherefore, let thy voice,
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.”
“This madness has come on us for our sins.” 8 likes
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