the once and future king

Thursday, December 10, 2009 |
Alyce at At Home with Books is doing a weekly feature where she highlights one of her favorite reads from the past and encourages others to do so as well.


I’m pretty young in the scheme of things. Twenty-five (twenty-six in 2 weeks!) isn’t old enough to remember much about the 80s, Mt. St. Helens erupting, the Reagan presidency or even big hair. So you’ll pardon me when I tell you that T.H. White’s The Once and Future King is a forgotten classic for my generation. In fact, it might qualify as a complete unknown.


I read it because my mom had an old paperback edition in our bookshelves, and because I’m liable to read any and all material available – age-appropriate or no. I’m not sure I’ve met another person (in real life) under the age of 40 who has even heard of this book, much less read it for pleasure. It could just be that I run in the wrong circles, but it’s a shame, regardless.


Why? Because this is a classic novel. It’s epic. It’s Arthurian myth. It’s witty and extremely intelligent. It’s coming of age and magic and legend. But mostly it’s the story of a mischievous and wise old man named Merlin, and his protégé Arthur. It’s a series of adventures, both magical and mundane, that make up the traditional Arthurian lore – all joined together into a grand narrative with a deft touch of humor and human understanding.


This book 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.


So, who needs to read this? My generation, obviously. And anyone in search of entertaining and worthwhile literature. Discover a classic that just might surprise you. In a good way.

10 comments:

Jenny said...

I am (well) under 40 and have totally read this book for pleasure! In fact I even own a paperback copy of it. I think it's charming - funny and touching.

kiirstin said...

*jumps up and down* I've heard of this one! And I'm an 80s baby too. But... I have to admit I've never read it. I really will, now, after your glowing review. I've always shied away from it a little, but I can't really think why.

Alyce said...

This is one of the few books about the Arthurian legend that I really liked. I read this one in one of my high school English classes, so it was assigned reading, but I remember it being good. Great choice!

kaye said...

I read this book many years ago. I liked it too.

carolsnotebook said...

Good choice - I loved this one.

She said...

I remember reading this in my 8th grade english class and absolutely loving it!

Laura's Reviews said...

My English teacher recommended the Once and Future King in high school. I read most of it when I was 27 and pregnant with my first son, but never finished it when I was in the throes of morning sickness. It's now four years later and I just found it again last month when I was sorting books. I really need to finish this book!

Rhiannon Hart said...

You probably saw in my recent IMM post that I just bought this book and was then horrified by reading a random scene in which a cat is boiled alive. Ok, I'm willing the brave the cat-cooking now! I'll read it when I get then chance ;) My dad assures me it's a great book too.

Alyssa said...

I've heard of this, but haven't read more than 10 pages. I gave it a try when I was in 6th grade and ended up getting seduced by a more interesting book. And then I never picked it up again.

I think a lot of people kind of know the facts about the Arthurian legends but don't really know where they came from. It really IS a shame more people don't read this!

Deanna/ibeeeg said...

I have not read this book but sounds like a read that I would like. I am glad that you decide to highlight this book for the post because I now have another book added to my to-read list. Thanks. :)

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