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The Once and Future King by T. H. White
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The Once and Future King (1958)

by T.H. White

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Once and Future King (1-4)

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10,311139279 (4.1)2 / 506
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English (134)  Dutch (4)  German (1)  All languages (139)
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
I don't care what anyone says, this is not a classic to me. It's just a bad story with annoying characters. ( )
  Kurt.Rocourt | May 22, 2015 |
Amazing read that really immerses yourself into Arthur's and Merlyn's world. This is the collection of 4 of the books in Arthur's timeline. The first book, Sword in the Stone, is more of a children's tale that has a good deal of humor. When Arthur is more adult, the book itself is also more adult. I really like how the book tackles different themes. Arthur is first taught by Merlyn the proper way to rule, while when he is the king he has to maintain his kingdom. It covers problems that rulers probably experience regularly: justice, responsibility, peace, war, feuds, friendship and fidelity. In scenarios where right and wrong do not matter, but whatever is necessary to keep the peace. ( )
  renbedell | Apr 19, 2015 |
There have been many accounts of the Arthurian saga over the 1500 years, the best thought of the past century has been T.H. White's "The Once and Future King". Though White's prose is good and engaging, the narrative arc through is tetralogy-in-one edition is problematic enough that it sometimes overshadows the wonderful characters he has developed.

The first of the four individual works, "The Sword in the Stone", is the best of all four. White's writes wonderful characters, especially young Arthur (aka Wart), in well-rounded depth. The narrative flow of this work is the best of any of them and sets up the reign of Arthur that makes the reader look forward to seeing what happens next. Unfortunately in "The Queen of Air and Darkness" the characters are not well rounded and the narrative aimlessly wanders between England and the Orkneys without connecting the two until the last chapter when an evil scheme comes to fruition that the reader did not know what actually happening. The third and longest of the individual works, "The Ill-Made Knight" focuses on an ugly Lancelot, his love affair with Guinevere, and the knightly exploits of the Round Table. While this individual work is somewhat engaging, White emasculates Arthur both physically and mentally that continues into final individual work, "The Candle in the Wind", while other characters aren't even given much depth or story arc.

Throughout the entire writing, White injects himself and modern day elements throughout the entire book making it hard for the reader to keep to the narrative flow and maintain a "suspension of disbelief". Another unfortunate decision by White was to insist his story was real history of a part of the medieval era then mention "the supposed Henry III" or "the supposed Richard the Lionhearted" throughout. Also White assumed that his readers were versed in Thomas Malory's "The Death of Arthur", which I must admit a half century ago might have been the case, nowadays readers ironically look to "The Once and Future King." And there were White's tangents, whether it was philosophy or history, that were beautifully written but had no bearing whatsoever on the plot or characters or anything else he had just written about before he went down those literary side roads.

Upon completing "The Once and Future King", I can see why many people enjoyed it and rated it highly. However, I personally can't ignore narrative stumbles or downright tangents that made three-quarters of the book harder to read than the section covering "The Sword in the Stone". My advice before reading T.H. White is to read Malory's book first and be prepared for references from the 1930s to the late 50s, or you'll be taken aback. ( )
  mattries37315 | Apr 15, 2015 |
First of all, it turns out that I really know very little about the Arthurian legends. Here are some things I've learned from The Once and Future King: 1. It's spelled Merlyn. 2. It's spelled Guenever.

3. Lancelot is considered quite ugly. 4. This is not the authoritative volume of all things Arthurian. There is actually a series of books by Sir Thomas Malory collectively called Le Morte d'Arthur (I've just ordered the first book so get ready for that in the future) which were referenced more than once in The Once and Future King. This was a beautifully written book and had me so caught up that I actually missed my stop on the train...twice. It's full of damsels in distress, knights in glittering armor, love beyond measure, and above all chivalry. There's a reason that many consider this book to be the best fantasy novel ever written. ( )
  AliceaP | Mar 20, 2015 |
This was a funny one. There is a significant change of style and tone over the four books, and I would say that whilst both the childlike whimsy of first book (The Sword in the Stone) and the epic humanism of the final book (The Candle in the Wind) are wonderful reads, in differing ways, neither of the two transitional books work at all.

The worst is definitely The Ill-Made Knight, the third book - which is a ill-made mixture of childish simplicity with adult themes, and feels plain odd. The books leaves all character development of its two main protagonists (Lancelot and Guenevere) for the fourth book, barely features Arthur at all, rushes past the deaths of some of the key knights, has none of the madcap creativity of the early books, and tries to do moralising and irony in the same breath.

However, you can't not love the collection as a whole, given the strengths of other books. White's textual richness is his main success, and the way he illuminates the 'dark ages', making it feel fizzing with life. Also: is there a more euphonic title than 'The Once and Future King'. Beautiful. ( )
  sometimeunderwater | Feb 20, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
It knits together the funny, the moving, the fanciful and the psychologically astute in a rich tapestry of the medieval age of chivalry... Whatever else it is or is not. this is a book of profound patriotic piety which glorifies Arthur as the father of his country, and finds in the childlike wonder and faith of medieval England the crucible of future English greatness.
added by Shortride | editTime (Sep 8, 1958)
 

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
White, T.H.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jason, NevilleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marvin, FredericCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuchart, MaxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vat, Daan van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
She is not any common earth

Water or wood or air,

But Merlin's Isle of Gramarye

Where you and I will fare.
When shall I be dead and rid
Of the wrong my father did?
How long, how long, till spade and hearse
Put to sleep my mother's curse?
"Nay," said Sir Lancelot "... for

once shamed may never be recovered."
"He thought a little and said:

'I have found the Zoological Gardens of service to many of my patients.  I should prescribe for Mr. Pontifex a course of the larger mammals.  Don't let him think he is taking them medicinally...'
Dedication
For J.A.J.A.
First words
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays it was Court Hand and Summulae Logicales, while the rest of the week it was the Organon, Repetition and Astrology. The governess was always getting muddled - she would take it out of the Wart by rapping his knuckles.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
These editions of The Once and Future King do NOT contain the Book of Merlyn. Please do not combine with the editions that DO contain the Book of Merlyn.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
The whole world knows and loves this book.  It is the magical epic of King Arthur and his shining Camelot; of Merlyn and Owl and Guinevere; of beasts who talk and men who fly; of wizardry and war.  It is the book of all things lost and wonderful and sad.  It is the fantasy masterpiece by which all others are judged.
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No descriptions found.

A revised omnibus edition of White's retelling of Arthurian legends. The first three sections of this book were originally published separately: The Sword in the Stone (1939), The Witch in the Wood (1939; here called "The Queen of Air and Darkness"), The Ill-Made Knight (1940), and the previously unpublished section, "The Candle in the Wind." The Book of Merlyn, written in 1941, was originally intended as the fifth and final book of the saga. It was first published by the University of Texas Press in 1977 and reissued by Berkley, 1978 (pap.). The whole world knows and loves this book. It is the magical epic of King Arthur and his shining Camelot; of Merlin and Owl and Guinevere; of beasts who talk and men who fly, of wizardry and war. It is the book of all things lost and wonderful and sad. It is the fantasy masterpiece by which all others are judged.… (more)

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