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Le Morte D' Arthur (Modern Library Series)
     

Le Morte D' Arthur (Modern Library Series)

3.8 24
by Thomas Malory
 

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The legends of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table have inspired some of the greatest works of literature--from Cervantes's Don Quixote to Tennyson's Idylls of the King. Although many versions exist, Malory's stands as the classic rendition. Malory wrote the book while in Newgate Prison during the last three years of his life; it was published

Overview

The legends of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table have inspired some of the greatest works of literature--from Cervantes's Don Quixote to Tennyson's Idylls of the King. Although many versions exist, Malory's stands as the classic rendition. Malory wrote the book while in Newgate Prison during the last three years of his life; it was published some fourteen years later, in 1485, by William Caxton. The tales, steeped in the magic of Merlin, the powerful cords of the chivalric code, and the age-old dramas of love and death, resound across the centuries.

The stories of King Arthur, Lancelot, Queen Guenever, and Tristram and Isolde seem astonishingly moving and modern. Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur endures and inspires because it embodies mankind's deepest yearnings: for brotherhood and community; a love worth dying for; and valor, honor, and chivalry. 'Le Morte d'Arthur remains an enchanted sea for the reader to swim about in, delighting at the random beauties of fifteenth-century prose,' said Robert Graves.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Le Morte d'Arthur remains an enchanted sea for the reader to swim about in, delighting at the random beauties of fifteenth-century prose."
—Robert Graves

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679641698
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/31/2000
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
992
Sales rank:
564,339
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

How Uther Pendragon sent for the duke of Cornwall and Igraine his wife, and of their departing suddenly again.

IT befell in the days of Uther Pendragon, when he was king of all England, and so reigned, that there was a mighty duke in Cornwall that held war against him long time. And the duke was called the Duke of Tintagil. And so by means King Uther sent for this duke, charging him to bring his wife with him, for she was called a fair lady, and a passing wise, and her name was called Igraine.

So when the duke and his wife were come unto the king, by the means of great lords they were accorded both. The king liked and loved this lady well, and he made them great cheer out of measure, and desired to have lain by her. But she was a passing good woman, and would not assent unto the king. And then she told the duke her husband, and said, I suppose that we were sent for that I should be dishonoured; wherefore, husband, I counsel you, that we depart from hence suddenly, that we may ride all night unto our own castle. And in like wise as she said so they departed, that neither the king nor none of his council were ware of their departing. All so soon as King Uther knew of their departing so suddenly, he was wonderly wroth. Then he called to him his privy council, and told them of the sudden departing of the duke and his wife.

Then they advised the king to send for the duke and his wife by a great charge; and if he will not come at your summons, then may ye do your best, then have ye cause to make mighty war upon him. So that was done, and the messengers had their answers; and that was this shortly, that neither he nor his wife would not come at him.

Then was the king wonderly wroth. And then the king sent him plain word again, and bade him be ready and stuff him and garnish him, for within forty days he would fetch him out of the biggest castle that he hath.

When the duke had this warning, anon he went and furnished and garnished two strong castles of his, of the which the one hight Tintagil, and the other castle hight Terrabil. So his wife Dame Igraine he put in the castle of Tintagil, and himself he put in the castle of Terrabil, the which had many issues and posterns out. Then in all haste came Uther with a great host, and laid a siege about the castle of Terrabil. And there he pight many pavilions, and there was great war made on both parties, and much people slain. Then for pure anger and for great love of fair Igraine the king Uther fell sick. So came to the king Uther Sir Ulfius, a noble knight, and asked the king why he was sick. I shall tell thee, said the king, I am sick for anger and for love of fair Igraine, that I may not be whole. Well, my lord, said Sir Ulfius, I shall seek Merlin, and he shall do you remedy, that your heart shall be pleased. So Ulfius departed, and by adventure he met Merlin in a beggar's array, and there Merlin asked Ulfius whom he sought. And he said he had little ado to tell him. Well, said Merlin, I know whom thou seekest, for thou seekest Merlin; therefore seek no farther, for I am he; and if King Uther will well reward me, and be sworn unto me to fulfil my desire, that shall be his honour and profit more than mine; for I shall cause him to have all his desire. All this will I undertake, said Ulfius, that there shall be nothing reasonable but thou shalt have thy desire. Well, said Merlin, he shall have his intent and desire. And therefore, said Merlin, ride on your way, for I will not be long behind.

How Uther Pendragon made war on the duke of Cornwall, and how by the mean of Merlin he lay by the duchess and gat Arthur.

THEN Ulfius was glad, and rode on more than a pace till that he came to King Uther Pendragon, and told him he had met with Merlin. Where is he? said the king. Sir, said Ulfius, he will not dwell long. Therewithal Ulfius was ware where Merlin stood at the porch of the pavilion's door. And then Merlin was bound to come to the king. When King Uther saw him, he said he was welcome. Sir, said Merlin, I know all your heart every deal; so ye will be sworn unto me as ye be a true king anointed, to fulfil my desire, ye shall have your desire. Then the king was sworn upon the Four Evangelists. Sir, said Merlin, this is my desire: the first night that ye shall lie by Igraine ye shall get a child on her, and when that is born, that it shall be delivered to me for to nourish there as I will have it; for it shall be your worship, and the child's avail, as mickle as the child is worth. I will well, said the king, as thou wilt have it. Now make you ready, said Merlin, this night ye shall lie with Igraine in the castle of Tintagil; and ye shall be like the duke her husband, Ulfius shall be like Sir Brastias, a knight of the duke's, and I will be like a knight that hight Sir Jordanus, a knight of the duke's. But wait ye make not many questions with her nor her men, but say ye are diseased, and so hie you to bed, and rise not on the morn till I come to you, for the castle of Tintagil is but ten miles hence; so this was done as they devised. But the duke of Tintagil espied how the king rode from the siege of Terrabil, and therefore that night he issued out of the castle at a postern for to have distressed the king's host. And so, through his own issue, the duke himself was slain or ever the king came at the castle of Tintagil.

So after the death of the duke, King Uther lay with Igraine more than three hours after his death, and begat on her that night Arthur, and on day came Merlin to the king, and bade him make him ready, and so he kissed the lady Igraine and departed in all haste. But when the lady heard tell of the duke her husband, and by all record he was dead or ever King Uther came to her, then she marvelled who that might be that lay with her in likeness of her lord; so she mourned privily and held her peace. Then all the barons by one assent prayed the king of accord betwixt the lady Igraine and him; the king gave them leave, for fain would he have been accorded with her. So the king put all the trust in Ulfius to entreat between them, so by the entreaty at the last the king and she met together. Now will we do well, said Ulfius, our king is a lusty knight and wifeless, and my lady Igraine is a passing fair lady; it were great joy unto us all, an it might please the king to make her his queen. Unto that they all well accorded and moved it to the king. And anon, like a lusty knight, he assented thereto with good will, and so in all haste they were married in a morning with great mirth and joy.

And King Lot of Lothian and of Orkney then wedded Margawse that was Gawaine's mother, and King Nentres of the land of Garlot wedded Elaine. All this was done at the request of King Uther. And the third sister Morgan le Fay was put to school in a nunnery, and there she learned so much that she was a great clerk of necromancy. And after she was wedded to King Uriens of the land of Gore, that was Sir Ewain's le Blanchemain's father.

Meet the Author

Scholars have determined that there were at least six Thomas Malorys alive in the 1400s when Le Morte d'Arthur was written. Considerable evidence points to the likeliest author as one Sir Thomas Malory or Maleore of Newbold Revell in Warwickshire, who was born in the first quarter of the fifteenth century. A member of the gentry, he became a soldier in the service of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, with whom he fought in the siege of Calais in 1436. In records of the period he is accused of various crimes--including armed robbery, attempted murder, and rape--and he is said to have executed several dramatic escapes from prison.

Several things about Malory seem indisputable. As in Arthur's time when post-Roman Britain was in a state of fierce tribal war, he lived in an age of great unrest. Europe was still recovering from the Black Plague and a century of war. In England, two powerful families fought for the throne. Although he may have been a scoundrel, Malory was also, it seems clear, a man of ideals who believed in courage and loyalty, and who mourned the passing of chivalry. Incarcerated for long periods, he had many hours to fill his imagination with French romances and tales of chivalry, volumes of which were readily at hand. It is thought that Le Morte d'Arthur was written during his imprisonment.

Malory referred to himself as a 'knight-prisoner.' With a military man's passion for the details of conquest, a prisoner's sense of injustice, and a penitent's desire for redemption, he dedicated himself wholeheartedly to this retelling of the Arthurian legends. Sir Thomas Malory died, it is presumed, around 1471.

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Le Morte D'Arthur 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Joel_M More than 1 year ago
This is not the "prettied up" Victorian (or later) King Arthur full of justice and nobility...at least not by current standards of justice and nobility. This is the story of King Arthur and his knights as translated/adapted/compiled (mostly from much older French manuscripts) by Sir Thomas Malory during the chaotic days of the Wars of the Roses. Most of the main characters are deeply flawed. This is even true of Arthur who spends most of his "screen time" being manipulated by either Merlin or Sir Gawain. The main character traits which get someone labeled as a "noble/worshipful knight" seem to be: 1. He fights well 2. He fights fairly 3. He speaks courteously 4. He is of noble birth Possess these four characteristics and just about anything else can be overlooked (the occasional rape, murder, adultery, etc.). Malory does not seem to comment one way or the other on this morality other than in the quest for the Sangreal where only the three (mostly) sinless (and virgin) knights are acceptable to God. I found the main story arcs interesting, but most of the minor events of which they were composed were repetitive in the extreme. Each story arc was a series of episodes most of which involved the protagonist fighting other random knights at battles, tournaments, or in single combat; sometimes to right a wrong, sometimes just for the sake of fighting. These encounters are all described using the same dozen or so stock phrases. This is a common device in older writing, I think, but it becomes quite tedious after a while. In my opinion, the last third of the book was much more interesting than the preceding 600 or so pages. It described the quest for the Sangreal and the events which led up to the death of Arthur in a much more cohesive manner than the other stories (the story of Sir Tristram and La Beal Isoud which takes up the middle third of the book was especially fragmentary). I would definitely recommend this book to fans of the Arthurian mythos as being closer to the source material than modern retellings, but I do not know whether the average reader would enjoy it or not.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I ordered this book to simply have a bare bones edition until the Norton critical edition is published this fall. It arrived today and I am disappointed to find that it will not meet my needs. Baines states in the preface: 'the purpose of this book is to proivide a concise and lucid rendering of Le Morte d'Arthur in modern idiom for the benefit of those 'students and general readers who wish to obtain a firm grasp of the whole, but lack the time and enthusiasm necessary to perform this task for themselves' and that 'my procedure throughout has been to retell each tale 'in my own words''. If you are looking to do any scholarly work, this translation may not meets your needs either. I can't speak to the effectiveness of the translation for the general reader as I will not be reading it. It would have been nice if Barnes & Noble had included this bit of information about the translation in their description of this edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She concentrated with her eyes closed. When she opened them she had three different snowballs in the air. Chuckling she pelted them at Neveren.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The sky is cloudless and the moon is but a slender cresent in the deep darkness. Stars twinkle and shine above, and, on occasion, a shy comet may be seen. With a beautiful night sky comes the bite of cold, however. The temperature has dropped to nearly freezing and the dew turns to pale frost. Thin particles of ice begin to form on the bank of the lake which oozes warm steam into the frigid air. <p> ~ Sunset Scarlet
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It may be free, but this is not the version for you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whatever this book was, its nothing but computer gibberish now
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kinda confuing book....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sub par.