The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143105459
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/30/2008
Series: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition Series
Edition description: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 192,490
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).
 
After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.
 
Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942).Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright(1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.
 
The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961),Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata!(1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).
 
Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures. 

Christopher Paolini is the New York Times-bestselling author of EragonEldest and Brisingr.

Date of Birth:

February 27, 1902

Date of Death:

December 20, 1968

Place of Birth:

Salinas, California

Place of Death:

New York, New York

Education:

Attended Stanford University intermittently between 1919 and 1925

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher


"Steinbeck embellishes Malory's spare language with a richness of detail that transforms the vision, makes it no one's but Steinbeck's."
-John Gardner, The New York Times Book Review

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

The first book that John Steinbeck ever loved was Sir Thomas Malory’s fifteenth-century narrative of Arthurian legends, Le Morte D’Arthur, and even later in his life, that book continued to be a major influence on both Steinbeck’s worldview and his creative output. In the latter half of the 1950s, having already won lasting fame as the author of Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, and East of Eden, Steinbeck was seized by a powerful urge to return to his first great inspiration. Setting aside the American themes and places that he explored in his immortal fiction, he took up the mammoth task of retelling Malory’s stories from a more modern point of view. Steinbeck eventually became so absorbed in this new, exciting work that he thought it might become his crowning achievement. Early in 1959, he told an interviewer that he had “learned to write and [would] not write anything more—just a history of King Arthur.”

What began for Steinbeck as an apparently straightforward work of translation and revision acquired a life of its own, as he strove not only to give new life to Malory but also to use the tales of King Arthur as a medium for his own expression. He traveled to England and Italy and read, by his own count, “literally hundreds of books on the Middle Ages.” In a strange but undeniable fashion, the book that was to become The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights transformed its author himself into a modern version of a questing knight endlessly pursuing the Holy Grail of his story. In the end, Steinbeck was able to complete drafts of only seven chapters of the book that he had hoped would be “the best work of my life and the most satisfying.” Steinbeck’s grail finally eluded him.

Nevertheless, his unfinished manuscript, published in 1976, eight years after his death, has been recognized as a work of strange, if imperfect power—both as a vigorous and keenly seen reworking of Malory’s tales and as a significant fable for modern times. The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights speaks eloquently of honor and gallantry, deception and betrayal. While resurrecting the medieval mind of Malory and the legends of ancient Britain, it also comments between the lines on the anxieties and anomie of modern living. As Steinbeck wrote to Jacqueline Kennedy, “The fifteenth century [Malory’s era] and our own have so much in common—loss of authority, loss of gods, loss of heroes, and loss of lovely pride. . . . At our best we live by the legend.” In The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, Steinbeck restores the glorious spirit of this bygone age.

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights tells both familiar stories like “The Sword in the Stone” and less well-known like the fatalistic “Knight with Two Swords.” It gives us the shining figures of Arthur and Lancelot and the darker specter of Morgan le Fay. It revives the magic of Merlin and the charm of Guinevere. Perhaps most important, it gives us the reflections of a Nobel– and Pulitzer Prize–winning writer on the mysteries of good and evil. Elucidated by a foreword by Christopher Paolini, the acclaimed author of Eragon, and supplemented by a fine appendix of selections from Steinbeck’s letters, which chronicle both the coming together and the eventual unraveling of his project, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights is an irresistible volume both for those who wish to know King Arthur and those who wish to recover a lost piece of themselves.


ABOUT JOHN STEINBECK

One of the greatest American writers, and one who had an innate understanding of the strength of the human spirit, John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California, in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).

After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.

Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon Is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.

The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata! (1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).

Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962 and in 1964 he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America’s greatest writers and cultural figures.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • In one of his letters about the writing of The Acts of King Arthur, Steinbeck observed, “One of the greatest errors in the reconstruction of another era lies in our tendency to think of them as being like ourselves in feelings and attitudes.” In what feelings and attitudes do you feel most different from the fifteenth-century author, Sir Thomas Malory, whose work Steinbeck revised? How do these differences complicate your reading of Arthurian stories?
  • From the time he began work on The Acts of King Arthur, Steinbeck resolved not to “clean . . . up” the morality of the stories for the younger members of his audience. He argued that “children not only understand these things but accept them until they are confused by moralities which try by silence to eliminate reality. These men had women and I’m going to keep them.” Do you agree with Steinbeck’s decision not to conceal the sexual motives that underlie many of these tales? Why or why not?
  • One of the attractions that the stories of The Acts of King Arthur hold for young readers is that they tell of men who get to act like boys. However, Arthur and his knights inevitably have to take on adult responsibilities, like Sir Kay in his role as seneschal. What, in these stories, do characters gain and lose in the process of growing up?
  • In his introduction to The Acts of King Arthur, Steinbeck implies that his chief intent is to write a book for children or young adults. Nevertheless, one finds moments that plainly express the insights and disappointments of a middle-aged man in his text. Who do you think is the real audience for Steinbeck’s narrative?
  • Steinbeck believed that, as he wrote Le Morte d’Arthur, Malory acquired more grace and insight as a writer. Steinbeck hoped to preserve this sense of evolving artistic mastery in his retelling of Malory’s work. In what ways do you observe this metamorphosis in The Acts of King Arthur?
  • Steinbeck stated in a letter to Elizabeth Otis that King Arthur “is not a character.” He also wrote, “This is the nature of all heroes.” What did he mean by this? Having read Steinbeck’s treatment of Arthur in The Acts of King Arthur, do you think Steinbeck was right? If so, what is it about Arthur that prevents Arthur from being a character? If, on the other hand, you think that Steinbeck succeeded in presenting Arthur as a character, how did he accomplish it?
  • How much of Merlin’s influence rose from his magical powers as opposed to his knowledge of psychology and human nature? Is his wisdom in itself a kind of magic?
  • Sir Balin, the protagonist of “The Knight with the Two Swords,” is one of the “best and most blameless” knights in The Acts of King Arthur, and he strives always to do the right thing. However, the results of his actions are routinely disastrous. Whereas we tend to expect stories for children and young adults to tell of perfidies punished and virtues rewarded, the story of Sir Balin offers no such reassurances. Is there a moral lesson to be taken from this story? If so, what is it, and, if not, what function does this story serve in the text as a whole?
  • The story line of Sir Ewain, the tale of the inexperienced young hero who gains wisdom and skill under the tutelage of a much older, unlikely mentor, has been reprised in countless films, including The Empire Strikes Back and The Karate Kid. Why do you think this kind of tale has such durable appeal?
  • Sir Lancelot so entirely devotes himself to perfecting himself as a fighter that he seems immune to romantic desire until the closing pages of Steinbeck’s manuscript. However, Lancelot worries that he may be seen as “not a man” because of his lack of interest in women. What qualities constitute manliness in The Acts of King Arthur? How do they differ, if at all, from more modern ideas of manliness?
  • Female characters like Morgan le Fay are responsible for much of the moral upheaval, treachery, and wickedness in The Acts of King Arthur. However, women like Sir Ewain’s mentor Lyne can be invaluable guides and supports to the male characters. What anxieties about women are expressed in The Acts of King Arthur, and what qualities define a good woman?
  • Merlin is deceived and entrapped by a beautiful young woman, even though he knows it will happen. Asked to give the reason, he answers enigmatically, “Because I am wise.” In what sense does Merlin’s downfall occur because of his wisdom, rather than in spite of it? Is Merlin right when he observes, “In the combat between wisdom and feeling, wisdom never wins?” Why or why not?
  • While ostensibly Christian, Arthur and his knights subscribe to an ethic that evidently matters more to them than Christian observance: the code of chivalry. How does chivalry differ from religious morality? How does each respond to needs that the other neglects to consider?
  • When Lyne and Sir Ewain see a group of peasants practicing archery, Lyne remarks that they are witnessing “the death of knighthood.” Steinbeck wrote The Acts of King Arthur at a time when he and much of the world were deeply worried about the threat of nuclear war. What comment is he making in the archery scene about the relationship between improved military technology on one hand and the fate of honor and social order on the other?
  • In one of his letters about The Acts of King Arthur, Steinbeck wrote, “Cleverness, even wisdom, is the property of the villain in all myths.” With the exception of Merlin, the Arthur stories tend to be more admiring of characters with physical strength than those with superior intelligence. What accounts for this seeming bias in the tales and, perhaps, in modern life, for jocks over nerds?
  • Steinbeck called writing “the lonesomest profession in the world.” Does his sense of loneliness creep into the writing of The Acts of King Arthur? In what places and in what ways?
  • In the story of Gawain, Ewain, and Marhalt, Steinbeck writes of “the sweet voices of . . . troubadours, singing of brave deeds and wonders . . . singing what everyone would like and hope to believe.” What is the relationship between the heroes who do the deeds and the troubadours who, like Steinbeck himself, turn the deeds into tales of wonder? How is each one dependent on the other?
  • Also in the story of Gawain, Ewain, and Marhalt, a “dark man” cynically describes the life of knight-errantry as “a childish dream world resting on the shoulders of less fortunate men.” As a whole, does The Acts of King Arthur support or refute this characterization? Are Arthur’s knights noble heroes or monumental escapists?
  • When Sir Lyonel at first rides with his uncle Lancelot, he does so in hopes of bringing back stories with which to mock both Lancelot and chivalric honor. Yet he ends up loving Lancelot and wanting to protect him. What accounts for his change of heart?
  • What are the weaknesses of Sir Lancelot’s personality? In what situations do they emerge? Why are his strength and nobility not enough to help him in some circumstances?
  • Around the same time that Steinbeck was working on The Acts of King Arthur, Lerner and Loewe were writing the musical Camelot, and T. H. White was publishing The Once and Future King. Why do you think the late 1950s and early 1960s saw such a surge of interest in King Arthur? Is this question partly answered by Steinbeck’s letter to Jackie Kennedy, quoted in the introduction to this guide?
  • The Acts of King Arthur, a work meant at least in part for a young audience, is a book of pervasive physical violence. Overall, is the violence of the stories an attractive feature or a repellent one? Can violent stories produce artistic effects and teach lessons that nonviolent stories cannot?
  • Arthur’s knights function brilliantly as an army, but far less well when he tries to turn them into a kind of armor-clad police force. Why?
  • In the story of Lancelot, Morgan le Fay gives an astonishing soliloquy suggesting that the lust for power is central to all human endeavors. What does this speech say about her character, and how does it show that she doesn’t “get” the values of Arthur and his knights?
  • At the outset of the story of Lancelot, Arthur is “astonished to learn that peace, not war, is the destroyer of men.” What does this paradox mean, and do you believe it? Is it less true in the modern world, when warfare is exponentially more destructive than in Malory’s or Arthur’s time?
  • If you know some of Steinbeck’s earlier work, like Of Mice and Men or The Grapes of Wrath, you have surely observed that The Acts of King Arthur differs considerably in tone, setting, and subject matter from the books that made him famous. Is The Acts of King Arthur still recognizably Steinbeck, or might these retellings have been the work of any talented author? What, if anything, is distinctly Steinbeckian about this text?
  • After he set aside the manuscript of The Acts of King Arthur, Steinbeck went on to write such books as The Winter of Our Discontent and Travels with Charley. Thus, he had time to finish The Acts of King Arthur if he had so chosen. No one is entirely sure why Steinbeck left The Acts of King Arthur unfinished. What is your most reasonable speculation as to why he abandoned the project?
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    The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
    BrianP More than 1 year ago
    A an age old fairy-tale told in modern, easy to read form by an author so well-known and respected for his writing about the lives and times of our American experience. A great read for rainy fall evenings by the fire or for the Steinbeck fan looking for something different. Although the genre is foreign to Steinbeck, his easy reading, common-sense style still comes through. I never had a chance to read the Mallory version, but my thanks to Steinbeck for bringing this classic to us in modern English.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Completely hidden John Steinbeck, a valid & bona fide 5 stars!
    rainpebble on LibraryThing 25 days ago
    John Steinbeck grew up very enamored by "Le Morte d'Arthur" by Sir Thomas Malory almost to the point of obsession. (or perhaps to the point of obsession) When he began writing he wanted to write Malory's book in language more easily understood, hoping that more people, especially youngsters, would read this wonderful work.And that is exactly how he begins this unfinished work. He starts at the point where King Uther Pendragon falls in love with the Lady Igraine and basically translates Malory's work onto paper. But it is not his own. It remains Malory's. The story moves along, shorting us of the marvelous details, underlying story lines and thoughts that we are so used to from Steinbeck. I found there to be very little of Merlin or King Arthur in this narration of the legend.When Steinbeck reaches the part of the travails of the knights Gawain, Ewain, and Marhalt he hits his stride and all of a sudden the story becomes not a translation of Malory into more modern language, but it becomes his own retelling of the legend of King Arthur's knights and suddenly I became immersed within it. We follow the legend to the point where Guinevere is just beginning to return the affections of Sir Lancelot and here for some unknown reason Steinbeck ends his narrative. Bam! It's done. It's over. John Steinbeck began writing this work in 1958 and stopped in 1959. Fully 1/5 of the book is contained in the appendix. There are excerpts from letters about this work running from 1931 up until his death in 1968. He continued to communicate regarding this work for 31 years. The letters were mainly written to his agent, Elizabeth Otis, and his editor, Chase Horton. It appears as if he never gave up on the work nor did he give up his obsession with the legend. I find it very sad that John Steinbeck didn't simply write a novel of the legend of King Arthur and his knights of the round table. I think, and this is just my opinion, that if he had made this a work of his own as opposed to a reworking of Malory, it would have been another one of Steinbeck's wonderful writings. But as it is, unfinished and with all the letters at the end of the book to show us how he fretted, worried, and studied over this, we see just how much of his life was spent on something that was beyond even the genius of John Steinbeck.
    jayde1599 on LibraryThing 25 days ago
    This book is a compilation of Steinbeck's interpretation of his translation of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, a book that he fell in love with when he read it at age nine. The book is unfinished and I really wish he was able to finish it or write his own Arthurian legend. As a Steinbeck fan, this book didn't hold up to his other works, but when reading the Appendix, which includes letters written to his editor and agent, one can see how much he put into just the translation of Malory's work. The book includes tales of Merlin, Arthur, Lancelot, Guinivere, and Morgan le Fay. The beginning tale, Merlin, is difficult to get into because it feels like just a translation and doesn't have that Steinbeck touchBut, tale of Gawain, Ewain, and Marhalt is great! It feels complete retelling. The last story, The Noble Tale of Sir Lancelot of the Lake contains many adventures strung together and then abruptly ends. I enjoyed the book, especially after the Gawain, Ewain, and Marhalt tale. It is just difficult to read an unedited and unfinished book. Had he completed the book, it would have been one of Steinbeck's greatest adventures. Reading the letters at the end shows how much he strived for perfection and the amount of worry and work that he put into his writing. Reading the letters redeems the disappointment of reading the unfinished tales because it shows what Arthur and his knights meant to John Steinbeck.
    Borg-mx5 on LibraryThing 28 days ago
    The tale of Arthur and his knights told in modern english. Oddly enough, I remember the details from this book better than other Arthurian tales. It does not read like other Steinbecks but it is still compelling.
    g026r on LibraryThing 29 days ago
    There are really two ways to aproach look at "Acts," and I can't help but feel that the manner in which one does so will undoubtedly impact the impression the work makes.The first is as a novel, and on this front it's not necessarily a success. Steinbeck originally set out to redact and translate the Winchester Malory into modern English, and as such the first couple of sections hew fairly closely to the original. The roblem is that, without the 15th century prose, it just comes of as a pale imitation, flat and lifeless -- like watching your favourite movie performed by cardboard puppets of all the actors. It's not until the Triple Quest and Lancelot, the last two sections that Steinbeck completed before abandoning the work for reasons unknown, that the puppets ever feel like they become replaced with actual characters -- Gawaine, vain and boastful, Kay, worn down by his duties' "thousand grains of sand", Lancelot, sad but noble. (Thankfully, though they're only two sections, they actually take up more than half of the text that Steinbeck managed to complete.)The other way to look at it is as insight into Steinbeck himself and his writing process. The text is Steinbeck's unedited and uncorrected first draft, and is accompanied by roughly 80 pages of letters written by Steinbeck concerning his work on it, his thoughts on Malory and consequently observations on himself as well. It's frankly, at least to me, fascinating stuff and the book would be much the poorer without it.
    edwinbcn on LibraryThing 29 days ago
    The acts of King Arthur and his noble knights by John Steinbeck is a retelling of Malory's Morte D'Arthur. Steinbeck worked on it, on and off, for about a decade, between 1956 and 1965, before abandoning it. The unfinished manuscript was published posthumously in 1976.It seems that in the field of literature, retelling has a negative ring. It smacks of abridgement, and simplification, especially for immature or inexperienced readers. In Western literary circles, the text is sacred and untouchable. This, unlike music, where the vitality of the cultural experience is defined by successful reinterpretation, although even here there is a discernable striving for the perfect performance.John Steinbeck had a vision about the value of retelling. This vision resulted in the creation of so called play-novelettes, such as Burning Bright, Of Mice and Men and The Moon Is Down, which are retellings or rewrites of drama into short novellas, in order to keep them available, and readable in an enjoyable format for the wider public. Many classical plays are forgotten or seldom performed, while very few people enjoy reading drama. The play-novelettes recreate the stories from the drama in prose, which a wider audience may read and appreciate.A similar didactic vein can be traced in the retelling of The acts of King Arthur and his noble knights. Few people will attempt to read Malory's Morte D'Arthur in the original version. In the introduction, Steinbeck relates how as a child he was mesmerized by the magic of the story and the wonder of the language, and it has been his life-long dream to share that experience render the Morte D'Arthur in a way readily accessible to modern readers.The Penguin Modern Classics edition includes nearly 70 pages of correspondence between John Steinbeck and his editors about his research, and the development of his ideas with regard to this project. Unfortunately, only Steinbeck's letters are reprinted, omitting the answers from his correspondents, with the exception of a single letter from Chase Horton to Steinbeck, in June 1968. This correspondence makes a very valuable contribution to the book, which could have been enhanced by a critical introduction by the editor.It becomes clear that Steinbeck invested a great deal of time and effort in this project, aiming to base the work on the best possible source, and working with eminent experts in the field of interpretation of the work. The published work is unfinished, which may partly account for the relative shortness of only 293 pages. Steinbeck also consciously omitted sections from the original text, which he felt did not fit the unity of the work.The posthumously published version falls apart in two parts, which are stylistically very different. Some reviewers regret this division arguing that the work should have been finished in one style, pointing at the demerit of the other style.The first five books, Merlin, The Knight with Two Swords, The Wedding of King Arthur, The Death of Merlin and Morgan Le Fay are written in a fairly close translation. This section best preserves the freshness of the original text. Much of the text seems emblematic and repetitive, with a lot of emphasis of events and description, but little or no psychology or character development. The story has a distinctive, medieval feel to it.The final two books, Gawain, Ewain, and Marhalt and The Noble Tale of Sir Lancelot of the Lake are novelized. In this section, the story is rewritten in Steinbeck's own, American novelistic style. The emphasis in this section is on character development, and experience of the tale. The stylistic divide is so great, that if it weren't for the characters' names, it could have been an entirely different story. The story has a typical, contemporary feel to it.Some reviewers have expressed their opinion that it was Steinbeck's intention to rewrite the entire work in the contemporary, Twentieth Century novelistic style. The two chapters we have show that it would
    twallace on LibraryThing 5 months ago
    A wonderful retelling of Mallory. Although unfinished, "The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights" is one of my favorite versions of the Arthur legend. At first Steinbeck sticks fairly close to Mallory, but as the book progresses he begins to explore the characters, the plot, and the language more and more. It's sad when the book ends, knowing you'll have to go to another source for the rest of the Arthur tales but feeling so content right where you are.
    TheAlternativeOne on LibraryThing 5 months ago
    The very best modern retelling of the Arthurian Legend. If you've read Malory's version of the myth then this is your next stop. Steinbeck brings the legend back to life. The only thing wrong with this book is that his untimely death left it unfinished. Each story is an entertaining tale, full of insight about the art of chivalry, women, war, and the concepts of honor and dignity.
    drewandlori on LibraryThing 6 months ago
    It's a shame that Steinbeck, a huge fan of Arthurian literature, never finished more than a fraction of his version of the Morte d'Arthur. I think the project, as he envisioned it, was just too big. But parts of it are fantastic, especially the later parts after Steinbeck realized that he's a far better writer than Thomas Malory and should probably do this his own way.
    midcenturyenglishmajor More than 1 year ago
    I have read this book 7 times over the past 4 decades. It is King Arthur's tale without all of the incredible difficult to understand middle English prose. This is the version to read if you are focused on the story, and not on the storytelling. I haven't read it in 5 years or so. I think I'll bring it on my next vacation!
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    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This book is great. It just seems to flow in a manner that you find yourself unable to put it down. It is so action packed, that as mentioned by the review above, that is always someone fighting, falling off a horse or just getting a sword stuck in their head. It is fit for all ages, and an adventure in and out of itself. Oh... and have i mentioned it's great?
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This book is very well written. Before I read it, I had no interest in King Arthur at all. There is literally a sword fight every two pages! You will never want to put this book down.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This was a wonderful discovery and a treasuer for Arthur fans. Suggest reading the appendix first, esp. the letter dated March 14, 1958.