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Idylls of the King

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  8,873 ratings  ·  218 reviews
Alternate cover edition of ISBN10: 0140422536; ISBN13: 9780140422535

Written in the middle of his career, Idylls of the King is Tennyson's longest and most ambitious work. Reflecting his lifelong interest in Arthurian themes, his primary sources were Malory's Morte d'Arthur and the Welsh Mabinogion. For him, the Idylls embodied the universal and unending war between sense a
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 5th 1989 by Penguin Books Limited (first published 1885)
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,873 ratings  ·  218 reviews

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Dec 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a beautiful, old edition of this book. I wish I could show you.

On the book marker, in old-fashioned cursive, it says,
Merry Christmas
To Lottie

This is a truly beautiful work. Enchanting. Mesmerizing, really.
There is just one little thing though...
I'd heard rumblings of this book being misogynistic. Loving Tennyson as I do, I refused to believe it. Basically, I read the book like this:
"Well, that's not necessarily sexist...Okay, it is. But, surely he didn't intend...Okay, he d
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I have read my softcover copy so many times it is falling apart. I really need to get a nice, illustrated, hard cover. I read this book several times a year. And sob hysterically at the end so that I can hardly finish. The saddest lines for me are (spoken by Arthur to Guinevere visiting her in the nunnery before the final battle with Modred):

"Thou hast not made my life so sweet to me,
That I the King should greatly care to live;
For thou hast spoilt the purpose of my life."

The agony in those lines
Laurel Hicks
“The city is built
To music, therefore never built at all,
And therefore built forever.”
Ah, Tennyson! It feels like coming home. This book is music to me.
Bryan "goes on a bit too long"
Idylls of the King is something I've wanted to read since I was a teenager--the title, the subject matter, the format all mixed together in my mind to suggest a work of astonishing grace and beauty. I might also add that I had a very naïve idea of what literature was capable of at that time--whatever the actual effect that literature might have on the reader, I was under the confused impression that reading classics like this would somehow augment me as a person, in the same way as someone who h ...more
Abigail Hartman
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
Tennyson's poetry is some of the most beautiful I've encountered (admittedly, not saying much, because my acquaintance with poetry is slight): his turns of phrase and the pictures he paints are wonderfully evocative, and there's an eerie mysticism in stories like "The Holy Grail." Even the fatalism -- as the idylls begin in spring and descend into a thoroughly gloomy autumn -- draws you in. Of course, since the unifying theme is the affair between Lancelot and Guinevere and the chaos it brings, ...more
Jun 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arthurian, favorites
This book was every bit as beautiful as I could imagine. I had previously loved and read The Lady of Shalott. Idylls, however, is a testament to his love and knowledge of Arthurian legend.

You'll likely walk away from this book with lots of favorite passages. And you might fall in love with the characters of this legend all over again.

Lancelot - "...a dying fire of madness in his eyes"

Percivale - "Had heaven appear'd so blue, nor earth so green, For all my blood danced in me, and I knew That I s
Free download available at eBooks@Adelaide.

From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3:
Alfred Lord Tennyson's epic poem The Idylls of the King, narrated by Tim Pigott-Smith and adapted by Michael Symmons Roberts.

David M.
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There are certain books, or authors, that don't hold up to modern political correctness. Mark Twain is one of them; Huckleberry Finn is constantly under threat to be banned from American schools. Robert E. Howard's protagonists routinely face villains who embody the worst of early twentieth century stereotypes. But Tennyson, in Idylls of the King comes under fire for his female characters in his series of epic poems concerning King Arthur and his valorous knights. What is not generally kept in m ...more
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Just finished this one for my Victorian Literature seminar. I will admit that the prospect of reading a 300+ page long poem was daunting, but well, well worth it. I have always admired Tennyson's work. This one is a bit different though. The language is not as resonant, but the imagery is spectacularly beautiful. Also, lots of lovely moments of universal truth within the story. They pop out of nowhere sometimes. The characters have a liquid, uncertain quality, bringing a whole lot of ambiguity t ...more
Jun 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Geraint & Enid still rock, although today their story would probably be featured on an episode of Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry? on the Investigation Discovery channel.

Ain't no wimmens gonna put up with a control-freak like Sir Geraint. Just sayin'...

Bryn Hammond
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
As usual, I thought right up there the short story of Balin, who is to blame for his own tragedy ('My violences, my violences!').

Darker than I had expected and gutsier. I think I decided to read this at last after I saw a book on Tennyson's battle poetry. How he wrote 54 battle poems and had a genuine feel for the 'heroic ethos' of ancient fiction to which he was devoted. Fair enough, I thought. Tried a couple of short ones: his Boadicea is as bloody as she came, and I throbbed to 'The Revenge:
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Crying. Crying again? How many times have I read the death of King Arthur in several retellings and yet his final moments still cause my heart to cry out in despair? Guinevere and Lancelot's exposed affair, the fall of the Round Table, Mordred's all comes crumbling down.

Loved the way Tennyson evolved the legend but at the same time kept the 12th century atmosphere intact.
Aug 17, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Goodreads ate my first review so eventually (maybe) something will be fit in here.

I wish all the poems were written in this style. (h/t to MookBarks)
Clif Hostetler
May 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson was etched into my memory as a famouse classic from an early age thanks to the card game, "Authors." So now, sixty years later, I finally got around to seeing what the story was all about. The final nudge to read it came from a book group so I had the pleasure of discussing the book with others.

So what did I learn? It's the story of King Arthur in blank verse and iambic pentameter, about a hundred pages worth. It's divided into twelve different stories
Ben Loory
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
it's beautiful; tennyson just has the best ear. the whole thing just demands to be read aloud, and not just read but almost sung. storywise it sags a bit in the middle but really pulls it out at the end. (it's not really a single epic, more a collection of linked poems (and a collection written over a period of 25+ years.)) my favorites were "Gareth and Lynette" (by far) and "Lancelot and Elaine." strangely i think the weakest is the one about the holy grail.

Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and
[Name Redacted]
"A deathwhite mist slept over sand and sea:
Whereof the chill, to him who breathed it, drew
Down with his blood, till all his heart was cold
With formless fear; and even on Arthur fell
Confusion, since he saw not whom he fought.
For friend and foe were shadows in the mist,
And friend slew friend not knowing whom he slew;
And some had visions out of golden youth,
And some beheld the faces of old ghosts
Look in upon the battle; and in the mist
Was many a noble deed, many a base,
And chance and craft and stre
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I started out kinda dreading this novel because of a) it's thickness and b) its confusingly written self, but as I read it and (cough used some helpful "guides") I have grown to long to read it. It is exciting and interesting and sophisticated. As of now (I am in Balan and Balin) I like it. (November 14)

I have now finished this novel and I enjoyed it. My favorite stories were Gareth and Lynette, The Marriage of Geraint, Geraint and Enid, Lancelot and Elaine, Pelleas and Ettare, and mm yes, those
Roland Allnach
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A venture of epic poetry, this is Alfred Lord Tennyson's take on the Arthurian legends. An incredible read in its own right, but, when taken in relation to Malory, Tennyson's work highlights the passion, tragedy, and Romanticism that sometimes was left at a simmer in Malory's work. Tennyson's work is more 'fantastic' than Malory's, and his descriptions of Camelot are as awe inspiring for the reader as they are for the characters he follows. For those familiar with Malory, Tennyson does not paral ...more
This particular book is not an edition of Tennyson's work, Idylls of the King, as a whole. It's an abridged version, essentially, with selections from Tennyson's poetry contextualised by brief prose. The reason I have this edition is, of course, the illustrations included, those done by Gustave Doré. Many of them are really spectacular, capturing perfectly the mood of the pieces and scenes.

Tennyson's poetry is, of course, powerful and problematic, but I'll review that in itself another time.
Mike (the Paladin)
Nov 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
I have more read "in" this than read it "through" at once. I found I loved Tennyson at a time when I had, quite a bit of time on my hands. Tennyson has a voice unlike any you'll find in contemporary writing. In this and other verse he conveys action and emotion. He seems obsessed with misunderstanding, rumor and false assumptions.

Excellently expressed. Enjoy.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm not a huge fan of poetry, but I really liked how Tennyson interpreted the Arthurian legends! Super depressing, but really interesting.

Now I just have to present on this tomorrow...
Mar 03, 2019 is currently reading it
Shelves: classics
I'm not reading these in order because I want to read the good ones first :P

Lancelot and Elaine
I actually enjoyed this one even though I've never been a fan of Lancelot in any piece of literature of film whatsoever. He was alright and slightly less idiotic in this though.

Elaine is strangely one of Tennyson's more spine-possessing female characters...or the only one. He was able to capture her spirit and yet still her naïveté at the same time. I'm quite sure it's downhill from her with the misog
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
“If Malory's "Le Morte D'Arthur" is the skeleton of Arthurian literature then Tennyson's "Idylls of the King” is its flesh and blood”, I’ve seen this praising phrase in several places and it’s quite true. This is an epic poem containing twelve loosely connected stories/poems narrating the adventures and romances of the King Arthur and the knights of Camelot, so what’s not to love.

Each section deals with story a knight or several knights of King Arthur's court. Their adventures and romances are
Nov 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: victorian
I could give you a hundred literary reasons to read these poems. I could talk about how Arthur mirrors Tennyson's own time. I could point out that Tennyson is one of the greats. The real reason why I love this book, why I love these poems is simply the poem "Gareth and Lynette". There are times when a reader feels truly connected to an author. Not in the sense of the written word being read, but in the sense of learning something about the author that also applies to the reader. For instance, le ...more
Kevin Kearney
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Aside from the work itself - which is enrapturing - one marvels at the capacity of the human mind to write such a thing!
This technically should be classified as "didn't finish" because I read two of the poems. But they were so terribly hard to understand. Most old books take a little while to get the hang if reading, but this one just made no sense. With something like Shakespeare, I can pick up pretty quickly on what's going on, and if I can't, I get the general gist of what's happening. But in Idylls, I didn't know what I was reading. I would get to class and my teacher would start talking about it and I would ...more
Joey Woolfardis
The edition I own is not the complete work, nor is it in the original order. It features prose that details what each section entails, which was helpful in a sense but unnecessary in another. The illustrations were divine and the story itself was delightful, but this is not the edition one should read.
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love this collection. Tennyson has a way with words that fits with Arthur's story perfectly!
Benji Cossa
Sep 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Late in the game for the Arthurian reader (19th C), but he surely keeps the flame alive. Really inspirational. If the Arthurian Vulgate Cycle were the blues, he'd be... someone awesome.
Sarah McCauley
Sep 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, novels
Made up of twelve pieces, some of which are absolutely phenomenal and a couple of which are really dull.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Essays: Tennyson's Guinevere 2 4 Jul 17, 2018 06:51AM  
Essays: Tennyson's Arthur "a wimp"? 15 3 Jun 24, 2018 12:41PM  
Essays: Secondary resources online 9 3 Jun 24, 2018 11:19AM  
Essays: Idylls 9 - Pelleas and Ettarre 2 3 Jun 24, 2018 05:53AM  
Essays: Idylls 1 : The Coming of Arthur 2 3 Jun 22, 2018 09:17AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Wrong description for edition 2 13 Oct 05, 2013 06:33AM  

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Alfred Tennyson, invariably known as Alfred Lord Tennyson on all his books, was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, the fourth of the twelve children of George Tennyson, clergyman, and his wife, Elizabeth. In 1816 Tennyson was sent to Louth Grammar School, which he disliked so intensely that from 1820 he was educated at home until at the age of 18 he joined his two brothers at Trinity College, Cambrid ...more
“Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of: Wherefore, let thy voice,
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.”
“This madness has come on us for our sins.” 10 likes
More quotes…