Jesse's Reviews > Le Morte d'Arthur

Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory
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Jun 10, 12

Read from May 14 to June 08, 2012

This is one of the most, if not the most, abominable treasures of world literature. Certainly, the English should be ashamed (though the real blame lay on the French); and indeed they were ashamed throughout the Elizabethan Age and Enlightenment. Everyone of taste, until the nineteenth century, considered this, and rightly so, the most putrid, low-brow trash extant, kept in existence only because of the printing press, and, perhaps, in order to keep idiots entertained. Wherefore the reappraisal? The Counter-Enlightenment, of course! The plots of these tales are too disgusting to even contemplate; suffice to say, every most virtuous knight, and every single knight is the most virtuous, commits bafflingly wanton acts of cruelty (did Lancelot really have to kill that innocent cart-driver? where did that come from?!); and every most beautiful maiden, and every single maiden is the most beautiful, is duplicitous and petty (even Guinevere, the queen of fuckin' Camelot, has no misgivings about sleeping around!). There is not a single, stable, likeable character in the whole monstrosity, which would be alright, perhaps, if at any point one could understand the motivations of a given character; but the feudal code, in which the characters are enmeshed, is so artificial, and so often transgressed, despite being the only topic of their praises, that it is impossible to understand what is going on. Perhaps someone might say, that's the point! I can hardly believe that, since there is no artistry to Malory's pen whatsoever! Every literary device known to us is eschewed by Malory, who was apparently in prison transcribing these horrendously incoherent stories, in their original state, from French books with, to make it all the worse, barely semi-literate skill. Two stars is generous (the extra star is for its influence on good, albeit fascist, writers). Simply put, what would be a howling piece of buffoonery, intended for the most stupid of audiences, if it were only a hundred pages or so, becomes, in its ballooned 1000-page state, due to multiplied prison sentences, the single greatest piece of literary torture imaginable, in my humble beknighted opinion.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Jesse I'm not sure! It's slow going...

Jesse Oh, miscommunication, I meant I can't read it quickly because of how poorly written it is. But that's just for the first few hundred pages - I just got to Sir Lancelot's tale and thought the quality improved. When I commented, I was on the tale of Emperor Lucius, a very boring and incoherent tale. I'm on Tristram and Isolde now.

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