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The Once and Future King by T.H. White
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The Once and Future King (original 1958; edition 1987)

by T.H. White

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,894145259 (4.1)2 / 539
Member:wyvernfriend
Title:The Once and Future King
Authors:T.H. White
Info:Collins (1987), Paperback
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, fantasy, tbr, A139

Work details

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

  1. 90
    The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck (g026r)
  2. 61
    Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (LamontCranston)
  3. 52
    The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin (LamontCranston)
  4. 20
    Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel by Thomas Berger (eromsted)
    eromsted: For a comic take on the legend
  5. 20
    The Squire's Tale by Gerald Morris (foggidawn)
  6. 10
    The Age of Scandal by T. H. White (BINDINGSTHATLAST)
    BINDINGSTHATLAST: Anotherside of White
  7. 12
    The Magicians by Lev Grossman (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: I thought of making this recommendation when reading the magical education section of The Magicians, which reminded me of the first book of The Once and Future King. But the wider idea - that magical powers can't stop us from making stupid human mistakes - is also relevant to both books.… (more)
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English (141)  Dutch (4)  German (1)  All languages (146)
Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
The first two thirds are so fantastic that they almost make up for the priggish ending. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this book. T.H. White has a fine imagination and makes lovable characters. ( )
  Bruce_Deming | Feb 5, 2016 |
Humans have retold stories over and over down the centuries; that’s how they develop into myths and legends. It’s how Shakespeare worked, and if it was good enough for him who are we to argue with such a policy? We retool the old tales for the era they’re told in, for the audience of the times.

By that token White’s retelling of Malory’s Morte d’Arthur for the 1950s looks extraordinarily dated now; the language, conceits and contemporary references which might have been fresh then now serve to pinpoint when it was written (specifically the cricket and cultural references mostly dropped by the backwards living Merlin). It’s a tale for a generation earlier than our won that’s survived partly by being the basis for a Disney film and partly because it uses the Arthurian myth to deal with big themes; leadership, love and man’s constant struggle to overcome the easy tendency to violence. For the most part it’s appropriate but White drifts to being overly didactic and heavy- handed in the last of the five books that comprise the novel. Given it was written during and in the aftermath of the Second World War that’s hardly a crime; more circumstance. And whilst certain elements might be seen as too ‘on the nose’ White’s contention that the rich and powerful tend to exert an undue influence on justice whatever means are used to enforce remains an uncomfortable truth; one earned by coming from a ruler at the end of his days. The puppeteer might be visible but his clear anger and passion just about carries the day.

Structurally it’s something of a mess with the overall story essentially covering a lifetime with large sections time covered in a few pages and characters who might have featured heavily written out of the story in a line or two. Certain story elements are often recounted rather than shown; a wearying tendency for a modern reader to deal with. The switch in focus from Arthur to Lancelot and Guinevere also feels jarring in what’s essentially the life of King Arthur; but then I suspect it’s an issue deriving from Malory. Still, there’s enough of the power of the Arthurian myth allied with passion and a peculiar sense of humour to render it an enjoyable, if often stiff and starchy, read. ( )
  JonArnold | Jan 28, 2016 |
There has only ever been one King and he is king in a land where he IS the land. His education and his tale of hard knocks makes for fascinating reading. The lies and bretrayal doom him [and the land]. The feminine characters' perspective in Bradley's _The Mists of Avalon_ is a great companion because it creates a sort of parallel universe to this one. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
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 | Jan 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 141 (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.
Quotations
Last words
(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.
Haiku summary

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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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