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The Death of King Arthur by Anonymous
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The Death of King Arthur

by Anonymous

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490530,009 (3.67)12
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We have a very realistic version of the end of Arthur's life here. No wondrous magical or religious episodes distort this account. Is this the origin of the detail of throwing Excaliber back into the lake? I think this 1230's redaction could be it. I've read it three times, over the years. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 3, 2014 |
This book is a translation of a part of the Vulgate Cycle, unfortunately a bit from the end. I really want to read that from the beginning, but this translation picks up after the end of the Grail quest. It's easy enough to follow, for me, but then, I know the story inside out. It's a much less fantastical narrative than some -- there's only one major bit of magic I can think of, and that's the hand of the Lady of the Lake catching Excalibur when Arthur has it thrown into the water at the end of his life. I disagree with the introduction's assertion that the other romances are silly and that this is more valuable for the lack of magic, but this is more realistic than other texts.

It helps that I know and love the characters already, but I liked their portrayals here and the various deaths made me sad. It's an easy enough translation to read, it seems pretty clear, and overall I thought it was pretty enjoyable. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Penguin Classics books are always a hit with me. Every time I decide to pick up one of these books, I come out completely satisfied. It was no different with this last purchase.

Sitting quaint in my favourite used book store, this tiny book ( at only $1.99) was just waiting for the right person to pick it up and give it a chance. I’m so glad I did!

The Death of King Arthur, is the famous king's tale written by an unknown author - ‘but most probably a Frenchman from Champagne, writing around 1230-35.’ This in itself got me so curious, that I just had to read it- if not for the story but at least for the flavor of reading something so old. I love the feeling of period writing because it really sets the mood for the piece. This one did not disappoint.

In The Death Of King Arthur, we read about all the great knights: Lancelot, Sir Gawain, Hector, Mador… Not only do we get the exciting battles fought for principle and reputation, there is so much gallantry, respect, honor and chivalry that make this book a precious piece of literature. Arthur’s beautiful Queen is at the center of this story, causing much dilemma between both Arthur and Lancelot.

The book is straightforward and although there are no flowery parts or picturesque moments or scenes, in its purity, this story does not need embellishing. What a refreshing read! Seemingly told by the author, as though he were narrating, I came to accept abrupt changes in the story that simply went like this: For example,

‘And now the story stops telling of Bors and his company, and returns to Lancelot…’

As strange and cut-off as this may seem, something that would never work in today’s writing, but considering the source and the time, it still works perfectly in this novel.

All I can say is that I really enjoyed reading this amazing tale, although simplistic in its form and told in such a straightforward manner, The Death of King Arthur managed to capture my interest and my heart. It made me remember why it is that I love Penguin Classics so much. Simply beautiful. ( )
1 vote LucyB. | Feb 25, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anonymousprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cable, JamesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This is the anonymous French work. It should not be combined with Malory's better known and similarly titled work.
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