Le Morte D'Arthur (Norton Critical Edition) / Edition 1

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The text is unabridged, with original spelling and extensive, easy-to-use marginal glosses and footnotes.
No other edition accurately represents the actual (and likely authorial) divisions of the text as attested to by its two surviving witnesses—Caxton’s 1485 print and, especially, the famous Winchester Manuscript. The Winchester Manuscript is now generally agreed to be the more authentic of the two earlier texts. The Norton Critical Edition is the first edition of Malory to recover important elements of this manuscript: paragraphing marginal annotations hierarchies of narrative division as signaled by size and decorative intricacy of initial capitals and font changes The Norton Critical Edition also represents, in black-letter font, the striking rubrication of proper names in the Winchester Manuscript, reconstructing for readers something of an authentic medieval reading experience, one which gives visual support to Malory’s extraordinary representation, in character and setting, of a chivalric ideal. No other student edition of Malory contains such extensive contextual and critical support.

Edited and first published by William Caxton in 1485, Sir Thomas Malory's unique and splendid version of the Arthurian legend tells an immortal story of love, adventure, chivalry, treachery, and death. This edition includes an excellent introduction by John Lawlor.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393974645
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2003
  • Series: Norton Critical Editions Series
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 1024
  • Sales rank: 194,768
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen H. A. Shepherd is Associate Professor of English at Loyola Marymount University. His honors include fellowships to the Huntington Library and the Bibliographical Society of America. He is the editor of the Middle-English Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle and of the Norton Critical Edition of Middle English Romances and coeditor of theNorton Critical Edition of Piers Plowman.

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Read an Excerpt

Le Morte D'Arthur

Volume One
By Thomas Malory


Copyright © 2003 Thomas Malory
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1404371494

Chapter One

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.


Excerpted from Le Morte D'Arthur by Thomas Malory Copyright © 2003 by Thomas Malory. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Arthur Before Malory
The Wars of the Roses
Malory: Life Events
Receptions of Le Morte Darthur to 1934
Reading Malory's English
Editorial Procedure/Reading the Edition
Le Morte Darthur or The Hoole Book of Kyng Arthur and of His Noble Knyghtes of the Rounde Table 1
Sources and Backgrounds 699
Responses to the Times 759
Criticism 795
Malory and Rape 797
Prologue and Epilogue to the 1485 Edition 814
Counter-Romance: Civil Strife and Father-Killing in the Prose Romances 819
The Rhetoric of Dialogue 830
Enchanted Ground: The Feminine Subtext in Malory 835
Shame and Guilt 849
On Malory's Style 856
Manuscripts, Readers, and Patrons in Fifteenth-Century England: Sir Thomas Malory and Arthurian Romance 865
Divisions 882
Mellyagant's Primal Scene 894
Glossary 907
Selected Guide to Proper Names 939
Selected Bibliography 945
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Customer Reviews

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( 34 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2002

    Not what I expected

    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.

    8 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2006

    The Best Edition I have Read

    First off, before I begin, I must state that the other review of this book is actually for a different edition, specifically the Signet Classics Edition edited by Keith Barnes. This book is the Norton Critical Edition, edited by Stephen H. Shepherd, and as such is one of the most accurate translations of the Le Morte D'Arthur I have seen in some time. It is especially good for use in research papers, as I can attest to from experience. Being meant for research, this book is not intended for anyone who wants a basic introduction to Malory or the Le Morte D'Arthur. The majority of the Middle English spelling conventions have remained intact in this volume, although it is important to note that some spelling has been still altered (as the editor makes clear in the introduction). Thus, a good knowledge of Middle English is necessary before attempting to read this for one's personal pleasure. The editor does some more things which try to keep this volume as close to the original mauscript as possible. One example of this is the line heights. If a sentence was written three lines high in the manuscript, it is printed three lines high in this edition. Items such as this combine to create an edition that is as close as a reader can get to the original Winchester Manuscript without looking at a fascimile of it. Although this edition is overwhelmingly based on the Winchester Manuscript, some portions of the Caxton printing have made their way into this volume, seen in places where the Winchester Manuscript was missing pages (such as the beginning) or was otherwise lacking. The influence of the Caxton printing is rather minimal, but in some areas this edition has to be considered a blend of the two. In addition to the story itself, there are a number of essays and other sources present at the end of the book which can help in research or in putting this tale and its author into perspective. Thus, in total, this would be the only version of Le Morte D'Arthur which I would ever use for research or for scholarly writing.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2001

    A Lesson in Chivalry

    Knights and dragons, sorcerers and kings, romance and betrayal, blood and guts...there's something of interest for everyone in Malory's story. This book is about the legendary life and acts of King Arthur and the life and struggles of his active family of chivalrous knights. While enjoying the frenetic adventures of Lancelot, Galahad, King Arthur, and Guinevere, many aspects of everyday life in early medieval times are glimpsed, in particular an absorbing overview of the code of chivalry. It's a fascinating journey of knightly heroes struggling to follow the dichotomy of the code of chivalry that calls for heroic military strength balanced by Christian ideals. Lancelot, as the main catalyst of the story, and the 'flower of all knights,' is a symbol of every human--flawed, yet struggling to better himself despite outside temptations. Arthur, on the other hand, is the ultimate symbol of goodness, loyalty, and bravery within the code of chivalry. His Round Table is called the 'flower of chivalry,' although as a result of his total faith in loyalty and honor Arthur is all too trusting of his friends and family. He and his Round Table are the heart of the story, but his fellowship of knights is shaken because of the loss of trust resulting from the adultery of Lancelot and Guinevere. Malory utilizes an effective, yet simple technique of grouping short prose stories with unusal titles such as 'How at night came an armed knight, and fought with Sir Gareth, and he, sore hurt in the thigh, smote off the knight's head,' into a sequential story line. The brevity of each story and the eye-catching titles break up the tediousness of interpreting the old Anglo-Saxon vocabulary. Words such as 'brain-pan' (skull), 'orgulity' (pride), and 'gramercy' (many thanks), are difficult to interpret, but the reader is assisted by a short glossary of terms found at the end of each volume. These stories are grouped into twenty-one books, ranging from the marriage of Arthur and Guinevere, to the story of Lancelot and his search for the Holy Grail, to the final book, detailing the death of King Arthur and the lamentable collapse of the Round Table.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2012

    Not the full text

    This only has one book of the entire text. So it is not something that I would recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2012



    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2012


    You dumb little kids. Go to a chatroom for your little games!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    Vol 2

    This is Vol. 2.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2006

    For the Renaissance Fans

    Oh, how I love, thee, Malory! This is a collectors' edition of the classic tale. The illustrations are beatiful (though I think Waterhouse does a better job at capturing the spirit of the legend) and it is a pleasure to read the classics in nicely bound books rather than decaying paperbacks. I recommend this book only for Arthurian purists as it is unabridged and contains no commentaries to aid the amateur reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2002

    Helen Cooper

    Helen Cooper, the editor of this edition, is among the foremost medievalists of our day. She is well versed in Chaucerian and Malorian literature, and is considered by her colleagues to be a truly brilliant scholar. After having heard her speak, I must concur - she is absolutely breathtaking. I would recommend this edition (or any other work she has set her hand to) most highly!

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    Posted March 5, 2012

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    Posted July 20, 2009

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    Posted June 16, 2010

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    Posted November 5, 2009

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    Posted January 11, 2012

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted January 11, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2010

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    Posted March 12, 2012

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