Sunday, January 7, 2007

The Once and Future King

Author: T. H. White

First line: 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.

Why you should read it: This is the definitive modern treatment of the King Arthur Legend, replete with magic, war, adultery, incest, and betrayal. The first chapter inspired Disney's The Sword in the Stone, but the novel's true statement takes the form of White's discussion of justice. Although there is a great deal of humor in the retelling, the subject is serious and relevant, with deep introspection into the ideas of mercy and forgiveness as well as tragedy and predestination. A challenging novel full of archaic vocabulary words, colorful exposition, and timeless questions.

Why you shouldn't read it: You think Mallory's Arthur is the only Arthur. You prefer blow-by-blow recounts of every battle ever fought to accesibility, plot, and character development.

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