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Le Morte d'Arthur, Volume I

(Le Morte d'Arthur Volumes #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  3,656 ratings  ·  124 reviews
Le Morte d'Arthur (originally spelled Le Morte Darthur, Middle French for "the death of Arthur"[1]) is a reworking of existing tales by Sir Thomas Malory about the legendary King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table. Malory interprets existing French and English stories about these figures and adds original material (e.g., the Gareth ...more
Paperback, 489 pages
Published 1986 by Penguin Classics (first published 1485)
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Jan 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an enjoyable read, if you like knights and stuff. The story is a metaphor for the shift in beliefs of many gods to the belief in the Christian god.

I learned that knights pretty much spend their time on quests and challenging each other at the drop of a hat. A typical example would be a conversation like this.

"I say, Sir Gallahad, the color red is above all the best color."

"I disagree, Sir Palomides, for I hold the color green to be the best."

"I challenge you then, let us joust to see
Alexis Hall
Okay, the Morte d'Arthur is ... weird as hell but I love it because it saved my life.

Well maybe not my life.

But some part of my life.

Basically there was this exam where you had to analyse a bit of Medieval poetry given to you from a set selection of texts. Everyone did Pearl because it was short and the other option were insane (one of them being THE ENTIRETY of the fucking Morte).

Anyway, I hate Pearl.

It all looks the same.

And that guy has some creepy ideas about his daughter, just sayin'.

So I
Nov 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
In my opinion, the definitive version of the Arthurian legend.I have read 6 different ones and I always come back to this one.
Sep 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Have I read enough medieval romance to be able to judge this work with its contemporaries? I'm gonna go on a limb and say "Sorta."

There were a few frustrations with this work. First that the preface said that there is an earlier manuscript of it that they didn't use, so I'm all "Wait, why give us the later if there's an earlier? Why tell us about it just to tease us?" The translator's notes tended to be next to useless, leaving confusing words undefined and telling me for the fifth time that
Aug 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: absolutely NOBODY. Take if off the damn English reading lists!!
Recommended to Joanna by: Princeton Review
SO INSANELY DULL and repetitive that it's curing my chronic insomnia. I'm not sure I can get through it, it's just making me so a genuine fan of King Arthur and his knights and adventures, I'm sorely disappointed in Malory. The earliest Arthurian literature is a thousand times more imaginative than this. I don't think I'll ever understand why it became an instant classic.

Jen B
I didn't finish. Perhaps some other time, but I found it extremely repetitive.
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5 stars
Carolina Casas
It was a great joy to read this again. Revisiting the medieval and renaissance eras are my favorite things to do. As a tutor I get to do it constantly. Re-reading this reminded me how important it is to remember our history, to go back to the past and see what inspired our favorite filmmakers and fantasy authors.
Since its inception, so many authors have tried to do the same; few have lived up to what Malory created. He was not the first to write about King Arthur and his knights of the round
Joseph Leskey
Just so we have no misunderstandings later, these guys [knights] are not always chivalrous. SSSSHHH, Joseph, lest they hear you and do thee smite to gain worship.

Second, have things changed since those knightly times? Like back then, two knights battle for hours and wound each other nigh to the death. What do they do? I paraphrase, "I have never met me such a worshipful knight as thee, therefore let us fight no longer under oath to the end of our lives, and I love thee the better, even as if
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Good Reading: 100 Signficiant Books
This is the first volume of Le Morte d'Arthur and shouldn't be seen as the first book of a trilogy, just the first half, and not meant to be read alone. I agree with the reviewer who said this is not for the faint of heart, and few general readers are going to find this a great read. If you're looking for an absorbing, entertaining read with characters you can relate to and root for, you're absolutely, positively in the wrong place. Read instead Arthurian novels such as T.H. White's The Once and ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books on Arthurian literature, Thomas Malory gives us the sad ending, and by the other side the possible return of The once and the future King.
Ethan Hulbert
Interesting that this and the Malleus Maleficarum were published in the same decade. Well, interesting to me, at least. Le Morte d'Arthur is a timeless classic and this version is pretty much THE version. Hard not to enjoy it, or, well, maybe it's easy for others not to enjoy it, but as an Arthurian fan, it's totally my jam.
So many fabulous words and phrases I need to add to my everyday conversations!
Apr 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: myth-legend
I'm glad Penguin* published this book in two volumes, so that I can give four stars to the first half (which is a little generous, if anything), and five to volume two. Taken as a whole, an amazing piece of literature, and perhaps the definitive version of the Arthurian story. While there is a continuous plot to the entire saga (although not always in chronological order), it's broken up into various nearly stand-alone sections, each with its own heroes and storylines. I found that most of the ...more
John Keats
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Bad to start off with a lie regarding a book about honor and chivalry? I'd read this before. But it's a book that keeps on giving, in part because of the style, the broad strokes of character and story that carve out essences or habits but leave you a lot of space to muse on what people are about. Is Gawain a lout? I say yes, mostly, because when he's rushed, or confused, or outnumbered, he usually chooses the selfish or easy way out. In contrast, Launcelot never does. At this point, in Volume ...more
May 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Although these stories are collected into a book, this is not a novel, and it's just Part 1. On the other hand the stories are stand alone, so I think I can review it a bit.

The first part is all about King Arthur's lineage and them him consolidating his kingdom. It's not that exciting because Merlin just tells King Arthur what to do and he does it and everything goes well. Everyone does "marvelous deeds of arms" and is a "passing good knight". I don't suggest skipping it because it gets you used
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, medieval
Let's meet all the knights from the round table-

Arthur: the king, general and knight married to Guinevere, whose father sent the round table and never said where he got it from.

Tristan: is an old knight that is famous for running away with his uncle's fiancee, Isolde (Tristan and Isolde). He is a good harp player.

Lancelot: The best and most famous knight. He fell in love with Guinevere.

Galahad: Lancelot's bastard son. He is virtuous and sweet in all his knightly manner.

Gareth: Gawain's youngest
Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm currently going through an obsessive Arthurian phase and what better to feed my passion than the first English print of the legend. Now, yes, this does mean it happens to be written in a modernised version of Old English (and yes I was a bit irritated when I found Peter Ackroyd's Modern English version the day before I finished) but I think this adds a certain charm to the tale. I certainly discovered that I regret the loss of some words and phrases from the English language (eg, anon, ...more
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Further Reading
Editor's Note

--Le Morte D'Arthur - Volume I

Notes to Volume I
Glossary of Proper Nouns
Ebster Davis
For a book called "The Death of Arthur" it doesn't really have as much of him as I was expecting. After the beginning bit that talks about his conception and how he came to be king, most of this book has to do with the exploits of the knights in his court.

You see, the knights are so inspired that Arthur (in his exhaled position as high king of all england) will still do the comparatively lowly work a knight. And they get inspired to do great feats to prove their worth.

A lot of these knights,
Gary Patella
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this because there are some modern retellings of the Arthur stories that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I was curious to see what those were being based off of. In the end, as far as reading for pleasure goes, I think I would still choose the modern retellings, but I don't regret perusing over Malory's version. What struck me from the very first sentence was the language, which was nothing like I have ever read before. I make no claims to be grammatically correct, (in fact there is a red ...more
Barry Haworth
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookpile-2020
It is some years since read Malory, but I was prompted to revisit him by a recent production of Spamalot at a local theatre and managed to find my copy. Malory's version of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is probably the definitive version of the story if such a thing exists. In this, the first volume, we have the account of the birth of Arthur, his coming into his kingdom, starting with the episode of the Sword in the Stone and continuing through various wars as he ...more
Derek Davis
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this edition, which stays with (or goes back to) printer William Caxton's vocabulary rather than trying to modernize. I learned a lot of new old words, and it's good to keep the online Morte d'Arthur dictionary handy to refer to. The English is almost exactly equidistant between Chaucer and Shakespeare, with Caxton busy solidifying it. (Interesting to note that Mallory always writes "spear," never "lance.")
Mallory hews to formulae for nearly all battles, which last either two hours or all
Britt Halliburton
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-and-read
I am convinced that Malory wasn't a very good writer.

There is a lot of room for forgiveness, but I am certain that, even for the time, Malory isn't particularly good at relaying a story. There is the understanding that he is essentially compiling a lot of information and translating, rather than writing firsthand, but this reads like a child's imaginary game with action figures. The fights are repetitive with the same actions being taken over and over. I am certain I am not supposed to be
Greg Kerestan
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Having finally picked up and finished a book I put down over a year before, the prickly charms of Le Morte d'Arthur have slowly revealed themselves to me. In the language and diction of the King James Bible, the deeds of Arthur and his men take on an almost Biblical tone, not entirely in keeping with the peculiar moral code to which they held. The earlier books in Volume 1 are more colorful, with their blend of magic, pageantry and history; as the book goes on and launches into the novel-length ...more
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic epic, written in the colourful style of the Middle Ages. If you are looking for Chrétien de Troyes' romantic tales of Tristan, Launcelot and Percival, this novel may not be for you. If you want to read an epic full of jousts, 'Castles Perilous' and quests in faraway lands, you may enjoy this book more.
Famous characters like Launcelot and Tristam are depicted in less sympathetic tones than other books of the Round Table. Their flaws, including violence, ego and betrayal, are all
Miriam Cihodariu
I was familiar with the Arthurian legends only from more recent-day sources and retellings. In anticipation of my extended trip through Scotland, I wanted to go closer to the sources and read an older collection of narratives regarding these characters.

Sir Malory's stories did not let me down. While they are a bit harder to follow compared to modern English prose, the wealth of detail regarding the entire host of characters (and plenty of minor characters I hadn't heard of before) is
Marc Herbert
The first few sections are a good foundation for the story of Arthur; however, both Merlin and King Arthur are off-stage for most of this book. The writing generally focuses on Sir Tristam, with limited attention paid to Lancelot, Morgan le Fay and Gawaine. Lots of good sword-play and jousting, with alot of treachery, loyalty and chivalry mixed in. No mention of the Holy Grail or Arthur's death in this book
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I like it. Enough is familiar from having grown up with Arthurian tales, but enough is different that it is full of surprises. You can truly imagine the plots and plans and the spells and sorcerers. It is a great picture of the culture, mannerisms, ideals, and especially the thought process of the era.
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Essays: Le Morte D'Arthur (Caxton) General comments 8 3 Jun 05, 2018 09:39AM  

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Sir Thomas Malory was a knight in the fifteenth century, who, while imprisoned, compiled the collection of tales we know as Le Morte D'Arthur, translating the legend of King Arthur from original French tales such as the Vulgate Cycle.

Other books in the series

Le Morte d'Arthur Volumes (4 books)
  • Le Morte d'Arthur, Vol. 2
  • A Morte de Artur - III Volume
  • Le Morte D'Arthur Vol. IV

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