Adam's Reviews > The Book of Merlyn

The Book of Merlyn by T.H. White
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's review
Jan 09, 09

bookshelves: magical-connective-fantastic-lit
Read in December, 2008

"Even the Greek definition anthropos, He Who Looks Up, is inaccurate. Man seldom looks up above his own height after adolescence."
Page 53

"He knew suddenly that nobody, living upon the remotest, most barren crag in the ocean, could complain of a dull landscape so long as he would lift his eyes. In the sky there was a new landscape every minute, in every pool of the sea rocks, a new world. He wanted time off, to live."
Page 99

"There is nothing so wonderful as to be out on a spring night in the country; but really in the latest part of night, and, best of all, if you can be alone. Then, when you can hear the wild world scamper, and the cows chewing just before you tumble over them, and the leaves living secretly, and the nibblings and grass pluckings and the blood's tide in your own veins; when you can see the loom of the trees and hills in deeper darkness and the stars twirling in their oiled grooves for yourself; when there is one light in one cottage far away, marking a sickness or an early riser upon a mysterious errand; when the horse hoofs with squeaking cart behind plod to an unknown market, dragging their bundled man, in sacks, asleep; when the dogs' chains rattle at the farms, and the vixen yelps once, and the owls have fallen silent: then is a grand time to be alive and vastly conscious, when all else human is unconscious, homebound, bed-sprawled, at the mercy of the midnight mind.
The wind had dropped to rest. The powdery stars expanded and contracted in the serene, making a sight which would have jingled, if it had been a sound. The great tor which they were climbing rose against the sky, a mire of majesty, like a horizon which aspired."
Page 149

"That was it, to mean well! He caught a glimpse of that extraordinary faculty in man, that strange, altruistic, rare and obstinate decency which will make writers or scientists maintain their truths at the risk of death. Eppur si muove, Galileo was to say; it moves all the same. They were to be in a position to burn him if he would go on with it, with his preposterous nonsense about the earth moving round the sun, but he was to continue with the sublime assertion because there was something which he valued more than himself. The Truth. To recognise and to acknowledge What Is."
Page 154

I got T.H. White's The Book of Merlyn in my Christmas box, along with Sophie's World and six present-books. It was White's intended ending for the Once and Future King series, and his intent should not be ignored in this case. The book includes many aspects that were later edited back into the first four books to soften its absence, but it is important to read in its own right despite this. White does most everything he did in the first four books, but better: more beautifully, with a deeper sense of melancholy and resignation, a more thorough look at his problem in general (war and the future of man), and a more centered and charming portrait of the various animal characters (The Committee).
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