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The Sword in the Stone (1938)

by T. H. White

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Once and Future King (1)

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2,966423,890 (3.93)198
A retelling of the Arthurian legend.
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» See also 198 mentions

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"Learn. That is the only thing that never fails."—Merlyn the Wizard

Before there was a famous king named Arthur, there was a curious boy named Wart and a kind old wizard named Merlyn. Transformed by Merlyn into the forms of his fantasy, Wart learns the value of history from a snake, of education from a badger, and of courage from a hawk—the lessons that help turn a boy into a man. Together, Wart and Merlyn take the reader through this timeless story of childhood and adventure—The Sword in the Stone.

T.H. White's classic tale of the young Arthur's questioning and discovery of his life is unparalleled for its wit and wisdom, and for its colorful characters, from the wise Merlyn to the heroic Robin Wood to the warmhearted King Pellinore.

Golden Kite Honor artist Dennis Nolan has loved The Sword in the Stone since childhood, and he imbues White's tale with magic and mystery in his glowing illustrations. Readers who know Arthur or are meeting him for the first time will delight in this beautiful rendering of one of the greatest stories of all time. ( )
  Gmomaj | Jul 18, 2022 |
What an amazing book, full to the brim with imagination, wonders and delights. It manages to be thrilling, extremely funny and very moving without even really seeming to try. The curious blend of ancient, mythic and modern (or at least contemporary) works brilliantly, to create something that feels far more of a fantasy than it would have otherwise. First and foremost, though, it captures more accurately than any book I've ever read the pure joy of childhood. ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
This one was a lovely book that took me right into my childhood.
The story is very well crafted and I loved how Wart learns from animals and plants and people like Robin Wood (nono, of course he isn't Robin Hood).
His little adventures were interesting and funny and I loved how the narrator sang the songs. ( )
  Nannus | Jan 17, 2022 |
Flip open this book to any page and you are guaranteed to find the most beautiful prose. It brims with wonderful creative ideas, clever intertextuality, and rich metaphors. It is a work of art.

It is, sadly, difficult to read; long, meandering, dense. The pacing is very poor. I really wanted to like it more than I did (that is to say - I liked it, but I didn't like reading it), and I can see why so many readers give up part-way through.

Perhaps it was aimed at a young adult audience, owing to a heavy helping of slapstick and coming-of-age elements along with perfectly blended humour and nonsense, but this would be entirely esoteric to most young readers today. It does also feature some archaic language and attitudes that shouldn't be consumed without a critical eye.

I read the rewritten version in [b:The Once and Future King|28434662|The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King #1-4)|T.H. White|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1451774552l/28434662._SY75_.jpg|1140206] (which is longer... perhaps I would have enjoyed the shorter version more) so I am willing to continue onto the next volume in the series [b:The Witch in the Wood|6400069|The Witch in the Wood (The Once and Future King, #2)|T.H. White|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1318128502l/6400069._SX50_.jpg|6588779] purely for the fact that it is mercifully short and I already have it in my hands. ( )
  Katrana | Oct 13, 2021 |
I'm very surprised I never got turned on to this when I was younger, since I loved myths, legends, and fantasy. I suppose I lumped it in with [b:Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table|672875|Le Morte d'Arthur King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table|Thomas Malory|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1309288301l/672875._SY75_.jpg|1361856] or [b:The Faerie Queene|765427|The Faerie Queene|Edmund Spenser|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1328308492l/765427._SY75_.jpg|19904] and thought it would be a straight-forward telling of the King Arthur myths, something dense and old-fashioned that I really ought to read but wasn't very excited about diving into. I had seen the Disney film of "The Sword in the Stone" and really liked it, but it didn't really click with me that I needed to seek out the source material.

It was only in reading [a:Helen Macdonald|314021|Helen Macdonald|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1400594607p2/314021.jpg]'s memoir [b:H is for Hawk|18803640|H is for Hawk|Helen Macdonald|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1442151714l/18803640._SY75_.jpg|26732095] a few years back that I got an inkling of what a strange, moving, and hilarious series of tales [b:The Once and Future King|43545|The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King, #1-4)|T.H. White|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1338741283l/43545._SY75_.jpg|1140206] really is. The writing is smooth, the humor layered, the central morality of the story is deeply touching. The figure of Merlin, who T.H. White brilliantly envisions as a man moving backwards through time, is absolutely brilliant and delightful.

I'm working through the rest of the cycle now, and I couldn't be more charmed so far. On to "The Witch in the Woods"! ( )
  francoisvigneault | May 17, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
T. H. Whiteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Collins, PatrickDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elwell, TristanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jason, NevilleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawson, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nolan, DennisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Sir Thomas Maleore
Knight

"I pray you all, gentlemen and gentlewomen that readeth this book, from the beginning to the ending, pray for me while I am on live, that God send me good deliverance, and when I am dead, I pray you all pray for my soul."
Sir Thomas Maleore, Knight.
July 31st, 1485.
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.
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"Castor and Pollux blow me to Bermuda!"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A retelling of the Arthurian legend.

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Book description
"Learn. That is the only thing that never fails."--Merlyn the Wizard

Before there was a famous king named Arthur, there was a curious boy named Wart and a kind old wizard named Merlyn. Transformed by Merlyn into the forms of his fantasy, Wart learns the value of history from a snake, of education from a badger, and of courage from a hawk--the lessons that help turn a boy into a man. Together, Wart and Merlyn take the reader through this timeless story of childhood and adventure--The Sword in the Stone.
Haiku summary
That boy is called Wart,
But Merlin knows he's destined
For far greater things.
(SylviaC)

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