Marcy's Reviews > The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
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Sep 16, 2012

really liked it

This book was my introduction to Arthurian literature, sometime in elementary school, perhaps fourth or fifth grade. I had no idea who Steinbeck was.

I saw it at a yard sale and picked it up to read again. Some of it is tedious -- the same parts that are tedious in Malory, particularly battle scenes. Some of it is amazing.

I love this quotation: "Arthur looked upward and he said, 'It’s a black day, a troubled day.'
[Merlin replied,] 'It is a day, simply a day. You have a black and troubled mind, my lord.'"

I love the psychological characterizations, especially of Lancelot -- especially love the story of his young relative picking on him at the beginning of their quest and then humbly admiring him after seeing his response to the goading. And I actually love that the unfinished book ends with Lancelot fleeing in bitter tears from his first intimate encounter with the queen. The telling of how intensely her first casual touch affected him, and how she noticed, is exquisite.

I don't like Merlin in this book all that much. All he ever seems to do is tell people horrible consequences that are going to happen because of seemingly innocent decisions they've made -- and he childishly delights in tricks and surprises.

I'd like to re-read Malory and this book chapter by chapter and see more particularly how Steinbeck has redacted, edited, added to, cut short, etc, Malory's work.

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Wyrdwulf Steinbeck's Lancelot was my favourite part of this book!


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