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ePub The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights: from the Winchester Manuscripts of Thomas Malory and Other Sources download

by Chase Horton,John Steinbeck

ePub The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights: from the Winchester Manuscripts of Thomas Malory and Other Sources download
Author:
Chase Horton,John Steinbeck
ISBN13:
978-0374100858
ISBN:
0374100853
Language:
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (1976)
Category:
Subcategory:
United States
ePub file:
1806 kb
Fb2 file:
1553 kb
Other formats:
rtf docx lrf lit
Rating:
4.5
Votes:
787

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights.

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights. The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976) is John Steinbeck's retelling of the Arthurian legend, based on the Winchester Manuscript text of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. He began his adaptation in November 1956. Steinbeck had long been a lover of the Arthurian legends.

Steinbeck, John, 1902-1968; Horton, Chase; Malory, Thomas, Sir, 15th cent. Introduction - Merlin - Knight with the two swords - Wedding of King Arthur - Death of Merlin - Morgan Le Fay - Gawain, Ewain, and Marhalt - Noble tale of Sir Lancelot of the lake - Appendix.

Beyond this, he had only his memory and his hopes and his intuitions. Among them were friends, relatives, kings, old gods and heroes, ghosts and angels, and devils of feeling and of traditions lost and rediscovered. And finally he had himself as literary material-his vices and failures, his hopes and angers and alarms, his insecurities for the future and his puzzlement about the past.

The first book John Steinbeck read as a child was the CaxtonMorte d'Arthur, and he considered it. .

The first book John Steinbeck read as a child was the CaxtonMorte d'Arthur, and he considered it one of the most challenging tasks of his career to modernize the stories of King Arthur. These stories are alive even in those of us who have not read them. And, in our day, we are perhaps impatient with the words and the stately rhythms of Malory. John Steinbeck(1902-1968) was the author of many books, includingOf Mice and Men,Cannery Row,East of Eden,In Dubious Battle, andThe Grapes of Wrath(which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939). In 1962, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The first book John Steinbeck read as a child was the Caxton "Morte d'Arthur," and he considered it one of the most challenging tasks of his career to modernize the stories of King Arthur. These stories are alive even in those of us who have not read them

The first book John Steinbeck read as a child was the Caxton "Morte d'Arthur," and he considered it one of the most challenging tasks of his career to modernize the stories of King Arthur. I wanted to set the stories down in meaning as they were written, leaving out nothing and adding nothing

Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur was the first book that John Steinbeck truly enjoyed reading as a child

Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur was the first book that John Steinbeck truly enjoyed reading as a child. Scroll to the top of the page.

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Steinbeck had long been a lover of the Arthurian legends

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976) is John Steinbeck's retelling of the Arthurian legend, based on the Winchester Manuscript text of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.

Steinbeck stopped working on The Acts of King Arthur sometime in late 1959, just as he seemed to hit his stride. Nine years later, he died. Why did he lose interest in the book?

LIKE JOHN STEINBECK, I read the Caxton version of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur when I was nine. And like Steinbeck, I fell in love with that immortal book. Steinbeck stopped working on The Acts of King Arthur sometime in late 1959, just as he seemed to hit his stride. Why did he lose interest in the book?

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976) is John Steinbeck's retelling of the Arthurian legend, based on the Winchester Manuscript text of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. He began his adaptation in November 1956. Steinbeck had long been a lover of the Arthur tales. The introduction to his translation contains an anecdote about him reading them as a young boy. His enthusiasm for Arthur and his affinity for Anglo-Saxon language are apparent in the work. The book was left unfinished at his death, and ends with the death of chivalry in Arthur's purest knight, Sir Lancelot of the Lake. Steinbeck took a "living approach" to the retelling of Malory's work; he followed the original structure of Malory, and indeed even kept the original chapter titles, but the text of the book was written in a modern way, and while the general plots are the same, Steinbeck added a more heavily psychological structure and background, modernizing the original novel, and changing the language, not to make it easier for modern readers, but to find the tone and structure with which Malory approached readers of his time, and find the corresponding tone and structure of today: "Malory wrote the stories for and to his time. Any man hearing him knew every word and every reference. There was nothing obscure, he wrote the clear and common speech of his time and country. But that has changed - the words and references are no longer common property, for a new language has come into being. Malory did not write the stories. He simply wrote them for his time and his time understood them... And with that, almost by enchantment the words began to flow." - Steinbeck, in a letter.
  • Here is John Steinbeck's unfinished but beautifully told cycle of King Arthur, with letters to his researcher and editor. Whatever discouraged the great American author from finishing this work is not clear. He retells the stories of Arthur and the knights of the round table from Mallory's La Morte d'Arthur, but with the freshness and frankness that vintage Steinbeck, including his reverence for the stories and lives of the people. Perhaps this is what bothered Steinbeck during the process. He was hoping for something new, and yet began to feel (as we see in his letters to his editor) that he was just writing in the "same old way".

    John Steinbeck's correspondence with his researcher (Chase Horton) and with his literary agent (Elizabeth Otis), written between 1957 and 1959 for the most part, is an important feature of this volume. Here we understand the process and the method of this soon-to-be-nominiated Nobel Laureate. Of equal interest is the forward by the youthful Christopher Paolini, who sees Steinbeck's work as falling into the realm of fantasy literature, or the beginnings of it. I don't think social-activist author from Salinas Valley would have become a fantasy author, but he was ever a lover of folk culture and popular traditions (cf. "The Pearl", "The Virgin of Guadalupe"). His letters to his editor and researcher demonstrate his seriousness in honoring the traditions while bringing them to speak to new, American generations.

    Did Steinbeck find the task overwhelming? His letters hint of this. He worked seriously right through the Autumn of 1959 and into the start of 1960. What we don't see in the book (and which we have no way of substantiating) is that in 1960, when John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States, the media and the White House compared the new presidency to a new Camelot (à la Lerner and Lowe musical hit). Could this have banalized or politicized the Arthurian legend in a way that Steinbeck did not want to touch it? I do not know... but knowing Steinbeck's work and works, I am willing to speculate that the glamour and glitter of the New Camelot will have been off-putting to the author of "Grapes of Wrath" and "East of Eden". America was changing, and he knew it. While the evidence of this books shows him in Somerset in 1959, we know very well that in 1960 John Steinbeck left his home and set off with is pet poodle Charlie to re-discover America (cf. "Travels with Charlie"). He was not happy with what he found, and maybe this new, glamorized, superficial America had something to do with his putting down his much cherished project on the Arthurian legends. American culture was degenerating, he felt, and he considered this a national tragedy (cf. "Winter of our Discontent").

    Steinbeck fan that I am, I am sorry that he did not complete his project to re-present the Arthurian legend, but I am very grateful that the editors have released his work for us to read and enjoy.

  • At one stray moment in "Acts Of King Arthur And His Noble Knights", a lazy knight named Sir Lyonel is pressured to join his uncle Lancelot on a quest. In casual conversation, he catches a glimpse of Lancelot's heroic nature, staring unblinking in the face of doom.

    "...suddenly Sir Lyonel knew why Lancelot would gallop down the centuries, spear in rest, gathering men's hearts on his lance head like tilting rings."

    In "Acts Of King Arthur", written in the 1950s but unpublished until 1976, John Steinbeck tries to do the same for us, explaining the world of Arthurian legend so as to make us understand its singular appeal in an age of TV cowboys and atomic bombs.

    Steinbeck largely succeeds, though not without difficulty. His "Acts" is a scattershot collection of stories that gathers steam only after leaving behind Arthur himself and most of the best-known elements of his storyline to delve into the marrow of lesser tales. There, Steinbeck grasps the opportunity to marry his own modern sensibilities to the centuries-old legends he retells.

    In the book's final and finest chapter, Lancelot is confronted by a jealous knight who catches him up in a tree without his sword. Building a fire, he tells Lancelot to come down and get what's coming to him. Lancelot asks how the knight can scruple to slay an unarmed foe.

    "I will recover from my shame before you grow a new head, my friend," the caitiff knight replies.

    Lancelot manages to get out of this hazard, only to discover another kind when old friend Sir Kay, managing Camelot's larder and tasked with feeding every passing knight, tells him how miserable the job has made him, worn down by "the nibbling of numbers."

    It's a dynamic way to read of Camelot's glory, dealing with such out-of-time concerns in a recognizably Arthurian way, but it took time for Steinbeck to reach this level of fluency. As an appendix of Steinbeck's correspondence during this project reveals, he found it hard work recrafting the stories of his middle-English sources without losing the beauty of its poetry, which had attracted him as a young boy.

    Only the chapter on Lancelot, and the one before it featuring three quests carried out by Sir Gawain, Sir Ewain, and Sir Marhalt, manage to pull this off completely. On their own the two chapters provide brilliant reading of pure fantasy and escape, not to mention more than half of the book's sizable page count.

    Elsewhere, a seemingly more tentative Steinbeck plows through the story of the Sword and the Stone, rushes the wizard Merlin to his untimely doom, and barely pauses long enough to allow his title character to pick up his fabled sword Excalibur. It's decent storytelling, just not that enthralling. Arthur is seen as a bumbler and, in one instance, quite brutal, something Steinbeck had in his source texts and was determined to keep in. It's hard at times to think why Steinbeck would think such a character would carry our enthusiasm, a problem he deals with by shuffling Arthur to the sidelines for most of the book.

    Yet as "Acts" moves along to its two closing chapters, it, like Sir Lyonel, finds that enthusiasm, prying out the child in many an older, cynical reader and transporting him or her to a place of wide-eyed wonder and enchantment. It's a shame Steinbeck never finished what he started, but what he creates here is no less special for its unpolished beauty.

  • The fascinating thing about this particular edition is that it consists of two different but equally fascinating elements: first, an unfinished novel; and, second, the author's correspondence on how the novel was researched and constructed. The unfinished novel is a modern retelling of Sir Thomas Malory's 15th Century Le Morte d'Arthur, the classic English-language version of the legends of the Round Table. This has flashes of brilliance, but, according to the nature of an unfinished novel, needed a lot more work. The opening chapters, which are on an epic scale, are solid, but Steinbeck only really finds his voice in the later chapters, where the scale is romantic and more intimate. The writer's humanity and a sly sense of humour begin to creep in. When the work stops abruptly, for reasons not entirely clear, one is left wondering how the work might have progressed, especially if he has revisited the early chapters in the style of the later ones. Yet for anyone with literary inclinations, it is when one compares this work-in-progress with the correspondence that the true value of this edition is revealed: it is a rare opportunity to see the details of how a first-division professional writer goes about his job. This is not typical Steinbeck - his heroes here are rich and active, not poor and passive - but he deserves respect for taking himself out of his comfort zone. Even those who have mixed feelings about his better known work - perhaps as a result of being beaten over the head by his "worthiness" - may find themselves wishing he had completed this novel.