Jessica's Reviews > Le Morte d'Arthur

Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory
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Feb 16, 09

bookshelves: library-book
Read in February, 2009, read count: 1

Le Morte D'Arthur is the classic written compilation of the stories of King Arthur. It was written by Sir Thomas Malory in the early 1400's and printed by William Caxton in 1485, after Malory's death. Malory himself wrote the stories that were already known in various other French and English translations. He brought them all together in written form. It is titled Le Morte D'Arthur because Caxton made a mistake in thinking that the title for the last part of the book was meant to be for the whole. The story is divided into twenty-one books, each one further divided into chapters which are then summarized by Caxton.
This book was almost impossible for me to finish, for a variety of reasons. First, it is over 900 pages long. Secondly, it is written in Old/Middle English, which is not easy to read quickly. I would have given up on it, except for the fact that I really did want to read the book in its entirety - I really wanted to know the original stories that are the basis for so much modern (and past) fantasy, in books and movies. I was unprepared for the repetitiveness of the story. There are endless listings of knights, jousts, tourneys, and a flock of nameless damosels, maidens, and gentlewomen. (The only women that need names, it seems, are those who stick around for more than a chapter or two, or those who are exceptionally good or evil; knights on the other hand get to have multiple names no matter how unimportant.) It is interesting to see how the stories are used as moral examples for their times - especially in the Holy Grail chapters, only the knights that are the most pure and holy have a chance of finding what they seek, and then they get the honor of dying and going straight to heaven when their quest is done.
All in all, I am honestly glad to say that I have read this book, but I would not necessarily recommend it to anyone. If there is a good modern version out there, one that doesn't alter the story in any way, but just makes it easier to read, that may be the way to go.
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01/18/2009 page 146
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