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The Once and Future King (1940)

de T. H. White

Outros autores: Veja a seção outros autores.

Séries: The Once and Future King (compilation 1-4)

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaConversas / Menções
15,301205351 (4.08)2 / 750
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Witch in the Wood (1939; here called "The Queen of Air and Darkness"), The Ill-Made Knight (1940), and the previously unpublished section, "The Candle in the Wind."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.… (mais)
  1. 100
    The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights de John Steinbeck (g026r)
  2. 71
    Ivanhoe de Sir Walter Scott (LamontCranston)
  3. 52
    The Earthsea Quartet de Ursula K. Le Guin (LamontCranston)
  4. 20
    Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel de Thomas Berger (eromsted)
    eromsted: For a comic take on the legend
  5. 20
    The Squire's Tale de Gerald Morris (foggidawn)
  6. 20
    The Age of Scandal de T. H. White (BINDINGSTHATLAST)
    BINDINGSTHATLAST: Anotherside of White
  7. 20
    Guinevere's Gift de Nancy Mckenzie (wordcauldron)
  8. 10
    Queen of Camelot de Nancy Mckenzie (wordcauldron)
    wordcauldron: My favorite retelling of Arthurian legend. Period.
  9. 22
    The Magicians de 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.… (mais)
1950s (34)
1940s (31)
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Inglês (200)  Holandês (3)  Alemão (1)  Todos os idiomas (204)
Mostrando 1-5 de 204 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
some funny, readable, enjoyable ( )
  farrhon | Mar 25, 2024 |
Such a big and rambling and messy and occasionally brilliant book. Gotdamn but it was fun to read. ( )
  localgayangel | Mar 5, 2024 |
As someone who admittedly didn't know anything about King Arthur except from the classic Disney film "The Sword In The Stone", this was a real eye opener. I completely enjoyed the first part of the book, where Merlin comes and educates Wart. That part is whimsical, fun, and just a good time. There are moments when we see the characters of Robin Hood, Maid Marian, and Little John. It felt comfortable, familiar.

Then we get to the second part of the book, and it is all downhill from there for me. We seem to pull away from Arthur and move into the Lancelot and Guenever story, which holds supreme for the rest of the book. It grew more than a little tiring. These characters made the same decisions over and over, and then felt the need to complain about them, over and over. I was more than ready to put the book down.

I hate not finishing a book, so I pressed on. The world-building is phenomenal. The mythical creatures, the backstory to other characters, and the first part alone set this book apart. It's just the Lancelot/Guenever thing that was a major mood killer. I finished the book happy to be done, but not happy to have read it. ( )
  briandrewz | Feb 23, 2024 |
Of all the versions of the King Arthur story I have read, this one is tied for my favorite. ([a:Stephen Lawhead|28083|Stephen R. Lawhead|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1247321485p2/28083.jpg]'s series is the other contender). White's version is completely ahistorical, but his heart-rending portraits of the Orkney lads and the Pellinores give a heartbeat to what can otherwise be dry or blood-soaked material.
[Update: I attempted to re-read this via audiobook a couple of years ago, and could not make it through even "The Sword in the Stone" part. Somehow it just wasn't as charming as I remembered it. But because of its impact on me as a teen-ager, I'm leaving it as a 5-star rating.] ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Jan 23, 2024 |
The Once and Future King is a book that feels connected and yet separate. The first portion, made up of the previously standalone novel The Sword in the Stone, reads like a book that parents of the late thirties may have read to their children a chapter at a time before bed. Composed of many small adventures with not much overarching plot, it's also far lighter in tone than much of what follows. While I wouldn't recommend it in its original form for children today, for reasons I'll get to later, this is the novel that Disney's The Sword in the Stone was based on. For anyone who grew up with that movie as I did, this should give you some idea of the magical adventures and a bit of the humor to be found here. The second book, however, The Queen of Air and Darkness, takes what feels like a dramatic tonal shift, and the end of the book is serious in the extreme.

All of this makes for a rather unique reading experience. It may induce you to either give up after the first portion, if it's the sort of thing you enjoy, or to give up before you even reach the portion you would enjoy if it isn't. I would suggest skipping the first book if you care to, but the later books draw on knowledge of the earlier ones. I might then suggest reading the first book when you're young and saving the rest for when you're older, but... the problematic content is of the type a young person may not be equipped to view through an appropriately critical lens. For a book that takes place in medieval England, there are a surprising number of remarks disparaging Native Americans. There's also usage of the "n" word. And there's even the type of racism that places certain races of the UK above others (Normans over Saxons and Saxons over Gaels). Among other questionable things. Honestly I made note of so many problematic passages that I would need a separate post to go over them all.

In terms of other content warnings, well, you probably can guess there's violence, although the first book clearly makes an effort to keep it below a certain level. For example, there's a sword fight in which the joke is that no one gets particularly hurt because both parties are wearing armor and clearly neither wants to cause serious injury to the other. In later books you'll find out the fates suffered by foot soldiers who don't wear armor and knights who are going at each other in earnest. You'll also find references to torture and incest and suicide, although these are told through narration rather than being explicitly depicted. In fact, the third person omniscient is used to great effect in allowing the reader to maintain a certain distance from what may otherwise have been incredibly disturbing. The author was working with established mythology and a bloody time in history, and he takes the approach of stating the situation as it is but sparing all the gory details.

Personally, I found myself plodding through the reading for the most part until partway through book three. The first book had some sections that were enjoyable enough that they kept me reading to the end of the little adventure. The second book served as a bridge to different parts of the timeline. But the third is where an overarching plotline that consistently kept my interest was introduced. It may be up to individual readers to determine whether they have the patience for this.

Another factor to consider is that at many points the narrator makes reference to Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, openly stating that events covered in that classic work won't be recounted here. I've only read portions of Le Morte d'Arthur myself and had no trouble understanding this book, but those who want to really dive into this mythology may be best suited starting with the earlier book and getting to this one later. Or maybe reading that one instead.

Personally, I found it interesting to see how the time period in which this book was written affected the way the stories were told. The impact of the first (and later second) world war is clear to see for those who keep an eye out for it, and this led to some reflections about war and violence and how/whether it might be possible to build a just and peaceful society that were what I liked best about the work as a whole. Except that it seemed at times to treat some of the horrors of the second world war a bit too lightly, and I made note of more than one sentence that seemed to lean towards antisemitic. So I'm not fully praising the viewpoint the novel takes on these issues. Really I appreciated that it established a framework that led me to wonder what I myself would have done if I were in King Arthur's shoes.

Other highlights include explanations of medieval life that are easy to understand and assume little prior knowledge of the subject. If you want to learn about a castle layout or the practice of hawking or many other little things without turning to nonfiction resources, this book can help you establish a foundation you can carry into works of fantasy that take your understanding of these things as a given. Not to mention books that take your knowledge of Arthurian legends as a given. There sure seems to be a lot of modern culture that assumes your familiarity with British culture and traditions.

There's also a certain feeling that books like these are to be kept on a pedestal, which in my case was amplified by the fact that the cover of the edition I checked out of the library had quotes by no less than four people praising it as if it's one of the greatest books ever. Personally, while I can say there are some great passages to be found here, especially towards the ending, and while I can understand a certain type of fantasy fan might find the first part to be a fun adventure with vibes similar to The Hobbit, I personally would only recommend this book if you're that type of reader, if you have a particular love for Arthurian legends, or if, like me, you're interested in the cultural significance. There are plenty of other books retelling the stories of King Arthur and his knights, and I certainly don't think this one should be above criticism.

But hey, feel free to say I must be somehow incapable of recognizing this book's true genius. Maybe my Irish ancestors passed down to me "the enormous, the incalculable miasma which is the leading feature of the Gaelic brain" (The Queen of Air and Darkness, Chapter 5). Or maybe we should pause while we read to consider whether harmful implications are being made and whether retellings of certain cultural mythologies might be revered above others for reasons that aren't solely dependent on their objective quality. Maybe we should all be free to form our own opinions. I don't know, just spit balling here*.

* For anyone who has difficulty discerning, yes, that final paragraph was sarcastic. And this footnote is genuine. Keep being you!
  dste | Dec 29, 2023 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 204 (seguinte | mostrar todas)

» Adicionar outros autores (13 possíveis)

Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
T. H. Whiteautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Crossley-Holland, KevinIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Howe, JohnArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Jason, NevilleNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Lawrence, JohnIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Marvin, FredericArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Schuchart, MaxTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Vat, Daan van derTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Westrup, Jadwiga P.Tradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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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...'
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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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“If I were to be made a knight,” said the Wart, staring dreamily into the fire, “I should insist on doing my vigil by myself, as Hob does with his hawks, and I should pray to God to let me encounter all the evil in the world in my own person, so that if I conquered there would be none left, and, if I were defeated, I would be the one to suffer for it.”
“That would be extremely presumptuous of you,” said Merlyn, “and you would be conquered, and you would suffer for it.”
“I shouldn’t mind.”
“Wouldn’t you? Wait till it happens and see.”
"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting."
"Which did you like best," he asked, "the ants or the wild geese?"
"Yet here I am denouncing their ideas of nationalism, being what their politicians would call a traitor—because, by calling names, they can score the cheap debating points. And do you know another thing, Arthur? Life is too bitter already, without territories and wars and noble feuds."
"You have become the king of a domain in which the popular agitators hate each other for racial reasons, while the nobility fight each other for fun, and neither the racial maniac nor the overlord stops to consider the lot of the common soldier, who is the one person that gets hurt. Unless you can make the world wag better than it does at present, King, your reign will be an endless series of petty battles, in which the aggressions will either be from spiteful reasons or from sporting ones, and in which the poor man will be the only one who dies. "
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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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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.

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