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The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King, #1-4)
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Archive 08-19 GR Discussions > Classic read- The Once and Future King by TH White

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Jennifer W | 2175 comments Welcome to our next classic book, The Once and Future King. This book contains the books: The Sword in the Stone, The Witch in the Wood, The Ill-Made Knight and The Candle in the Wind.

It's a longer book (my edition has 677 pages), so I thought we could divide it into smaller sections. If this schedule doesn't work for people, let me know and I can adjust it.

May 2: start book to Chapter 8 (page 69)
May 9: Read Chapter 8 to Chapter 16 (page 142)
May 16: read Chapter 16 to end of book 1 (page 213)
May 23: read Chapter 1 to Chapter 10 (page 293)
May 30: Read Chapter 10 to Chapter 8 of book 3 (page 370)
June 6: Read Chapter 8 to Chapter 28 (page 459)
June 13: Read Chapter 28 to end of book 3 (page 544)
June 20: Read Chapter 1 to Chapter 8 (page 606)
June 27: Read Chapter 8 to end of book.

Who's in? :)


message 2: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4852 comments I never read this so I will try it.


message 3: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I'm in. Just marked my book for each section. Have to admit I was totally clueless, and didn't know this book contained The Sword in the Stone (like the Disney movie, right?)


Taylor That makes two of us Sheila; I didn't know that either. Shortly after this was decided on as being an upcoming read, I was doing the annual dusting of the books in the basement and found this one amongst my husband's books so I'm good to go.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Yep, like the Disney movie! :) Though I suspect there will be much more than the Disney movie.


message 6: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
And like some other things we have read (Arabian Nights comes to mind) I have a feeling the story will be very different than the Disney movie! :-)


Taylor I can only think of one book that I've read that's been made into a Disney movie. In their adaption, they used the book's title and characters' names and pretty much ignored the whole story.


Rebecca I picked mine up and was unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary. I hope it will be self explanatory? Im in.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Has anyone started yet? I got stuck working late at work tonight, so I haven't had a chance to crack it open.

It seems like we may not have too much of a foundation on this story going into it. What do people know of King Arthur? Other books or movies? What do you expect from this story?


message 10: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I haven't started yet, but hope to crack into it tonight. I have my copy sitting there with all my post-it note markers for reading sections!

I did notice that someone marked up lines and passages in my copy and made some margin notes. (I bought a used copy). Always fun to see what someone else anonymous thought of a book. Though they look like notes for school so maybe someone read this in college?

Not sure what I expect. If I expect something, it will be the exact opposite so I am going in with an open mind, and thinking it will NOT be like the Disney movie. :-)


Rebecca I am starting mine this afternoon.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments I read up to chapter 3. The end of chapter 2 was odd.

I have wanted to read this book ever since I saw it at the end of the Xmen movie, lol. I also had a friend recommend The Mists of Avalon to me as the women's version of King Arthur, but I figured I should read the original first.


Taylor I'm not sure what I was expecting but this wasn't it. At the very least I thought it would have a more serious tone. Not that it's not an enjoyable read, just a bit odd.


Irene | 4085 comments I read the first volume of this book in HS (didn't know there were multiple volumes until this thread started). I absolutely loved it; thought the humor was terrific. I am worried that it will be less enjoyable when I visit it as an adult.


message 15: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Okay, I started last night, just read chapter one, but have to say I was expecting something more serious, like Taylor mentions. I was not expecting this to be a humorous set of stories. It is almost Monty Python like!


Taylor The Monty Python comparison really fits, Sheila.


Rebecca I started last night also I didn't quite make it to chapter 2 before I fell asleep.


message 18: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4852 comments It was that boring?


Rebecca No I just started it to late to get very far. :)


message 20: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4852 comments ah


message 21: by Petra (new)

Petra It's been a couple of years since I've read this so I won't be able to comment much.
I really liked the first book and found it fun & charming. I hope you're all enjoying it.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments I agree, the Monty Python comparison is a good one.

I saw the Disney movie as a kid, though it wasn't one of my favorites. However, reading these early chapters, I was able to remember parts of the Disney movie which I haven't watched in... 2 decades, maybe more.

The only other source I have for this story is the movie "First Knight" with Sean Connery and Richard Gere. Oh, I also saw the newer movie called "King Arthur", but I don't remember much of it.

Have any of you seen the musical "Camelot"? I never have, though I remember playing the songs in high school band.


Taylor My copy must have come out shortly after the movie because it has Camelot written on the front (in printing bigger than that of the actual title of the book) as well as pictures of the actors. I remember seeing the movie when I was a kid.


Rebecca I was thinking it was also Wizard of Oz like, when Wart met Pellinore. I am on to chapter 3. Its starting to pick up for me. I did kind of get lost of the Cully and Hob bit.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Yeah, what was up with Pellinore?


Jennifer W | 2175 comments How's everyone doing? I finished the first section tonight.


Taylor I've finished the first section as well and am still trying to wrap my head around it.


message 28: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I finished this week's reading. The chapters are kind of disjointed I think. Amusing, but disjointed. A strange event chapter ends, and then some completely unrelated chapter happens. We don't really seem to get a 'wrap up' of these events and happenings.


Taylor I agree Sheila. Hopefully it will all come together at some point.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments I agree, Sheila.

Anyone else have any other thoughts on the first section?

I read a couple of chapters last night and it seems to be more of the same. Somehow, this isn't the start I would have had in mind for King Arthur...


message 31: by Petra (new)

Petra The first book is quite different from the rest. When I finished it, I thought hard about continuing because, charming as it was, it seemed quite juvenile. I'm glad, though, that I continued and finished the books.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments I'm encouraged by that, Petra. I wouldn't think it could continue like this. How many times can we turn Arthur into a creature?! Not very dignified! ;)


Taylor That makes me feel much better Petra. I'm planning on resuming my reading of the book tomorrow and I've kind of been dreading it. Good to know there's an end in sight. Seems there's a reason only the first section was Disneyfied.


message 34: by Petra (new)

Petra It's not obvious until quite late in the books, but there's a reason for all the animal experiences. Hang in there!


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Petra wrote: "It's not obvious until quite late in the books, but there's a reason for all the animal experiences. Hang in there!"


Haha! Really? I can't wait!


Rebecca I am also glad to hear that. I finished the first section last night. So far it seems we learn a lot about Merlyn but so far not much about the other characters. There is alot of details. While I wasn't a big fan of the exploration on jousting, I did find the details of all the defenses of the castle very interesting. I didn't know there was such sophistication to them. I agree with others about the final chapter. Hopefully the set up with Pellinore served to set up something later? I am looking forward to starting the next section.


Taylor I finished the second section and am starting to enjoy this book. Either it's becoming less bizarre or I'm getting used to it. One thing that struck me was the use of non-PC language (several non-flattering references to Indians, use of the N word, dismissive attitudes towards women). At first I excused it as the book was written well before the times of political correctness, but I'm starting to rethink it as being indicative of the writer's belief in the superiority of white men. Perhaps this was the prevalent attitude in 1958 but it does bother me.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Excellent point, Taylor. At first I was excusing it as being medieval, but some of those words wouldn't have been used back then, either.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments I'm up to chapter 13. The last few chapters with Robin Hood were more along the lines of what I was expecting.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments I finished this week's reading. I think the chapter on the ants was probably the most metaphorical that we've seen so far. What do others think? Is this a case of White's times creeping into the story? This part of the book was written in 1939.


Taylor Jennifer W wrote: "I finished this week's reading. I think the chapter on the ants was probably the most metaphorical that we've seen so far. What do others think? Is this a case of White's times creeping into the st..."

I was thinking the same thing when I read this section. And I must say it was the only thing that made this part tolerable. I found it so boring. I too enjoyed the bit with Robin Hood.


message 42: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
For me it is still just so "all over the place". Unique though.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Today one of my clients asked me what I was reading. When I told him this, he got all excited and asked, "what creatures has Merlin turned him into?" I told him where we were and he told me he read this book in 9th grade... he's in his 50s. As he said, "I guess I really liked it, I still remember it."

So that's encouraging! :)


message 44: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
How funny that someone would remember that much from a book they read that long ago! He must have REALLY loved it. :-)


Jennifer W | 2175 comments I'm guessing so. He remembered the ants! I was surprised.


Kirsten Feldman (goodreadscomkirsten_feldman) Jennifer W wrote: "Today one of my clients asked me what I was reading. When I told him this, he got all excited and asked, "what creatures has Merlin turned him into?" I told him where we were and he told me he read..."

Oh, yes, definitely! I can visualize whole scenes of this book, though I haven't read it in years. It still makes me smile to picture him seeing the world below from a bird's point of view and noting that there are no country demarcations (just like John Lennon's song "Imagine").


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Any thoughts on this week's section?

I have to agree with Taylor, I think I'm settling into this book. I have several other books that I'm reading, but this is the one I gravitate towards.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Are Marian and Morgan le Fey the first women characters we've had in this book? Given White's racist and sexist statements he's made previously, how did you feel about his portrayal of these two ladies?


Taylor I didn't get too much of a sense of either woman other than to wonder if they were archetypes of good woman/bad woman. I wonder if we'll see more of them as the story progresses. I imagine, given the author's general attitudes, that his portrayal of them won't be very progressive. I hope to get to the next section later today.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments I didn't get a sense of Morgan, but I liked Marian. I feared she'd be kept home to cook dinner or something, so I liked that she was portrayed as a skilled shooter and tracker.


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