King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table

King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table

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King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table by Unknown

INTRODUCTION


King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table! What magic is in the
words! How they carry us straight to the days of chivalry, to the
witchcraft of Merlin, to the wonderful deeds of Lancelot and Perceval
and Galahad, to the Quest for the Holy Grail, to all that "glorious
company, the flower of men," as Tennyson has called the king and his
companions! Down through the ages the stories have come to us, one of
the few great romances which, like the tales of Homer, are as fresh and
vivid to-day as when men first recited them in court and camp and
cottage. Other great kings and paladins are lost in the dim shadows of
long-past centuries, but Arthur still reigns in Camelot and his knights
still ride forth to seek the Grail.

"No little thing shall be

The gentle music of the bygone years,
Long past to us with all their hopes and fears."

So wrote the poet William Morris in _The Earthly Paradise_. And surely
it is no small debt of gratitude we owe the troubadours and chroniclers
and poets who through many centuries have sung of Arthur and his
champions, each adding to the song the gifts of his own imagination, so
building from simple folk-tales one of the most magnificent and moving
stories in all literature.

This debt perhaps we owe in greatest measure to three men; to Chrétien
de Troies, a Frenchman, who in the twelfth century put many of the old
Arthurian legends into verse; to Sir Thomas Malory, who first wrote out
most of the stories in English prose, and whose book, the _Morte
Darthur_, was printed by William Caxton, the first English printer, in
1485; and to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who in his series of poems entitled
the _Idylls of the King_ retold the legends in new and beautiful guise
in the nineteenth century.

The history of Arthur is so shrouded in the mists of early England that
it is difficult to tell exactly who and what he was. There probably was
an actual Arthur, who lived in the island of Britain in the sixth
century, but probably he was not a king nor even a prince. It seems most
likely that he was a chieftain who led his countrymen to victory against
the invading English about the year 500. So proud were his countrymen of
his victories that they began to invent imaginary stories of his prowess
to add to the fame of their hero, just as among all peoples legends soon
spring up about the name of a great leader. As each man told the feats
of Arthur he contributed those details that appealed most to his own
fancy and each was apt to think of the hero as a man of his own time,
dressing and speaking and living as his own kings and princes did, with
the result that when we come to the twelfth century we find Geoffrey of
Monmouth, in his _History of the Kings of Britain_, describing Arthur
no longer as a half-barbarous Briton, wearing rude armor, his arms and
legs bare, but instead as a most Christian king, the flower of mediæval
chivalry, decked out in all the gorgeous trappings of a knight of the
Crusades.

As the story of Arthur grew it attracted to itself popular legends of
all kinds. Its roots were in Britain and the chief threads in its fabric
remained British-Celtic. The next most important threads were those that
were added by the Celtic chroniclers of Ireland. Then stories that were
not Celtic at all were woven into the legend, some from Germanic
sources, which the Saxons or the descendants of the Franks may have
contributed, and others that came from the Orient, which may have been
brought back from the East by men returning from the Crusades. And if it
was the Celts who gave us the most of the material for the stories of
Arthur it was the French poets who first wrote out the stories and gave
them enduring form.

It was the Frenchman, Chrétien de Troies, who lived at the courts of
Champagne and of Flanders, who put the old legends into verse for the
pleasure of the noble lords and ladies that were his patrons. He
composed six Arthurian poems. The first, which was written about 1160 or
earlier, related the story of Tristram. The next was called _Érec et
Énide_, and told some of the adventures that were later used by Tennyson
in his _Geraint and Enid_. The third was _Cligès_, a poem that has
little to do with the stories of Arthur and his knights as we have
them. Next came the _Conte de la Charrette_, or _Le Chevalier de la
Charrette_, which set forth the love of Lancelot and Guinevere. Then
followed _Yvain_, or _Le Chevalier au Lion_, and finally came
_Perceval_, or _Le Conte du Graal_, which gives the first account of the
Holy Grail.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940012881854
Publisher: SAP
Publication date: 06/20/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 228 KB

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King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does this have all four books;?