The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights ePUB È

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights ePUB È


The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights [Reading] ➺ The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights By John Steinbeck – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk Steinbeck's first posthumously published work The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights is a reinterpretation of tales from Malory's Morte d'Arthur In this highly successful attempt to render Malo Steinbeck's first posthumously published work of King PDF Å The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights is a reinterpretation of tales from Malory's Morte d'Arthur In this highly successful attempt to render Malory into Modern English Steinbeck recreated the The Acts PDF \ rhythm and tone of the original Middle English.


10 thoughts on “The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights

  1. Jason Koivu Jason Koivu says:

    One doesn't associate John Steinbeck with fantasy literature and yet here it is The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck Go figureIt's all here the rags to riches story of how Arthur ascended to the throne the many deeds of his knights the magic of Merlin and Morgan Le FayHis translation of Thomas Malory's version of the Arthurian legend is almost strangely faithful seldom veering from that 15th century work in order to modernize the language enough for today's reader And it is immensely readable I breezed through from start to finish Certainly not every story is a winner Movies tv series and books often skip a good number of the stories and stick with the most well known This gives you the lesser known stuff in full color and it is often beautiful However this faithful translation dismayed and disappointed the publisher who expected a Steinbeckized version of the Arthurian tales something like a Grapes of Wrath gritty tale of down and out knights Don't you too make that mistake when reading this Steinbeck was a childhood fan of these stories and with childlike devotion he captures their essence with a picture perfect imitation intending to flatter via flattery's sincerest form Well done and highly worth a read Well I say all but the book is not actually complete Steinbeck put many years of hard work into this and yet inexplicably didn't finish it


  2. Terry Terry says:

    Is it wrong that this was the first book by Steinbeck that I’ve read? Certainly it is the kind of book one probably wouldn’t have even expected this author to have written Known for his brooding meditations on the harsh life of the American experience in the mid 20th century a translationre working of Malory’s stories about King Arthur and his knights certainly don’t seem like an obvious fit for Steinbeck Reading through the letters written by the author himself in the appendix to this volume however makes it abundantly clear that the project was one that was near and dear to the author’s heart into which he poured a significant amount of time effort and which he himself saw as possibly filling the role of crowning achievement of his work I will here go on record with many other reviewers on Goodreads and state that it is a real shame that for some unknown reason Steinbeck never finished his work on this though even the fragment he left us with is a significant work and one of the better treatments of the Matter of Britain I’ve readI must first admit that I found myself becoming slightly bored with the first third or so of the text True to his words in the introduction Steinbeck hews very closely to his source text Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur and generally follows his plan of “leaving out nothing and adding nothingsince in no sense do I wish to rewrite Malory ” in the first four tales Merlin The Knight with the Two Swords The Wedding of King Arthur and The Death of Merlin I generally have little use for ‘translations’ of Malory since I don’t really see the point; the Middle English he uses isn’t really that difficult for a modern reader to approach and I generally find that ‘modernizing’ the language simply takes the reader a further step from the text without adding anything of use Happily for us Steinbeck seems to have taken advice from his editors to heart and in the subseuent tales really starts making the material his own while still staying true to the spirit of Malory Indeed from the very first sentence of Morgan le Fay one can see Steinbeck breaking new ground and not simply aping his master From here on we are treated to a really excellent interpretation of the tales that seeks to investigate the psychology of these figures from myth without reducing them to little than modern people in medieval drag or diminishing the epic scope of the talesArthur largely remains the peripheral figure he generally has to be for these tales the enigmatic centre around which all of the other characters revolve and from whom they draw their glory Despite this Steinbeck does attempt to invest the tragic king with some elements of individuality and provides one or two tantalizing glimpses of the man underneath the myth We see the king’s early dissatisfaction with the trials of kingship and disappointment in the need to fight rebellion Soon after this Arthur wearied with campaigns and governing and sick of the dark deep walled rooms of castles ordered his pavilion set up in a green meadow outside the walls where he might rest and recover his strength in the uiet and the sweet air We see his growth in wisdom as a leader of men Then Arthur learned as all leaders are astonished to learn that peace not war is the destroyer of men; tranuillity rather than danger is the mother of cowardice and not need but plenty brings apprehension and unease Finally he found that the longed for peace so bitterly achieved created bitterness than ever did the anguish of achieving it Indeed it is this very discontent that prompts Arthur and Guinevere in Steinbeck’s version of the tales to ‘trick’ Lancelot into setting an example for the other knights by adopting the lifestyle of the uest an action that will prove to be both the greatest glory and the greatest sorrow of Arthur’s court Throughout the work are strewn nuggets of wisdom often coming from the mouth of Merlin in the earlier stories and Steinbeck uses these tales of chivalry as an opportunity to meditate on the human condition Thus we have ”Somewhere in the world there is defeat for everyone Some are destroyed by defeat and some made small and mean by victory Greatness lives in one who triumphs eually over defeat and victory” and ”You cannot know a venture from its beginning” Merlin said “Greatness is born little Do not dishonor your feast by ignoring what comes to it Such is the law of uest”I found myself noticing things here that I had missed or glossed over from my initial reading of Malory such as the incongruous nature of the various enchantresses generally known to be “the damsels of the Lady of the Lake and schooled in wonders” They range from the damsel who gave to Arthur his enchanted sword Excalibur the same maiden killed by Sir Balin for ostensibly having had his own mother burned at the stake to the Lady Nyneve the bane of Merlin who despite her role in deceiving the besotted old enchanter stealing his knowledge and leaving him buried alive is not portrayed as evil She does this act to gain power but learns that with great power comes great responsibility In the end she seems to take on Merlin’s role as protector of the realm though in a somewhat lessened capacity and gets her own reward for being true to the lonely path of power that accepts responsibility the love of the good knight Pelleas Finally there are also the four ueens including Morgan le Fay who capture Lancelot and put him to the test with their illusory blandishments They may or may not be members of this same circle of enchantresses but they eually represent part of the same intriguing puzzle just what are they? Members of a school for magic? A group of proto feminists looking for a way to power in a man's world? Something of both or neither? Some seem to be evil working deeds of mischance and violence others good though often they are no less violent in this world of martial law and divine retribution Perhaps it’s most appropriate to say that the true test comes in that some work for their own selfish interests while others work for the common goodIt was also refreshing to see the varied characterization of the uesting knights and their three fascinating ladies in the tale Gawain Ewain and Marhalt Indeed the entire section provides Steinbeck with interesting character studies not to mention much fodder for his social and personal concerns Marhalt rocks and it was very nice to see a knight of Arthur’s court so clear headed and competent without vainglorya rare thing He is a man with both skill and self knowledge the uintessential man of experience and it’s a bit sad to know that his fate in the cycle is to be killed by that jack ass Tristan though Steinbeck does not himself tell this episode The training of young Ewain in many ways the opposite of Marhalt by his own Lady was eually wonderful and showed how far Steinbeck had come much of this tale seems to have been created by Steinbeck himself and yet it in no way felt like he was departing from the spirit of Malory specifically or the Arthurian tales in general The final entry The Noble Tale of Sir Lancelot of the Lake shows Steinbeck truly coming into his own It becomes obvious here and is confirmed by statements made by Steinbeck in the letters found in the appendix that Lancelot was the true centre of Steinbeck’s tale and was the character through whom he hoped to develop the real through line of his thoughts on the Arthurian corpus Lancelot gave the author everything he needed to work through the concepts of human fallibility mixed with nearly superhuman stature The entire theme of the greatest good often leading to the greatest evil could play out in full measure with all of its varied nuances with Lancelot From the description of his life as a young boy hearing Merlin’s prophecy regarding his future peerless knighthood and subseuent desire to fulfill it to the discontent of a man who has honed himself to perfection and is looking for it in an imperfect and jaded world we really begin to get a glimmer of the power Lancelot held as a character for Steinbeck and the heights the author might have achieved had he finished his work Alas such was not to be and we are thus left with only a fragment of what might have been so much Still a fragment is far preferable to nothing at allI can’t close without adding that the letters in the appendix were an unexpectedly intriguing look into the mind of both Steinbeck the man and Steinbeck the writer His complete love for the Arthurian material and especially his deeply felt personal connection to Malory as a writerand single minded devotion to his research came as something of a surprise to me and it was eually fascinating to get a glimpse of his personal ruminations on the writing process In addition to these writerly concerns we get to see Steinbeck the man wrestling with his own fears and feelings of inadeuacy in a work which he thought “should be the best work of my life and the most satisfying” and which he even felt contained “the best prose he had ever written”


  3. Nicky Nicky says:

    I reread this for my dissertation but also because I've wanted to for a while now to see if I still loved it as much and I don't I love it I still mourn for the book it could have been if Steinbeck had finished it if he'd edited it to be a coherent whole The first few sections are well written enough but it's later in the stories that he really decides how to handle his material He takes the basic events of Malory and breathes the life of a modern novel into them thoughts and feelings fears and hopes humour and understanding He makes sense of the way Kay's character changes makes Lancelot likeable and human and his love for Guinevere a real and painful thingIf you know me at all you probably know that I regularly loathe Lancelot and at best tolerate him Steinbeck can do what few others can and make me not only like him but make my heart bleed for him Unfortunately what time and interest he devotes to Lancelot he turns away from Gawain who is most of the worst aspects of himself hereMore than anything this time I was caught by the beauty of Steinbeck's writing I could uote a dozen bits of this for you and I'd still be here typing up some tomorrow morning Again the first few sections aren't impressive it's when he gets to Lancelot that he really shinesI wish I could read and love Malory the way Steinbeck clearly did But I don't mind so much finding the magic at second hand when it's Steinbeck showing me


  4. Kim Kim says:

    I didn't choose to read this book becase I have any particular interest in Arthurian legend Indeed until I read this book almost all of what I knew about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table came from these two filmsand Rather I decided to read John Steinbeck's take on Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur because of my ambition to be a Steinbeck completist it's Steinbeck and his writing that interest me not folklore From reading Jay Parini's biography of Steinbeck and Steinbeck's collected letters Steinbeck A Life in Letters I knew that Steinbeck's love of Malory's work dated from his childhood I also knew how passionate he was about this particular project His intention was to translate Malory rather than to re write Le Morte in order to make the work accessible to modern readers Steinbeck spent several years researching Malory in particular and Arthurian legend in general before he started writing He immersed himself in the language and the geograhy of the work and poured his heart and soul into the project In spite of Steinbeck's passion it remained unfinished poor health and the magnitude of the task ultimately defeated him For the first third of the book I was frankly bored Clearly Arthurian legend is not my thing Or else Monty Python's gags and Lerner and Loewe's music and lyrics have ruined my chances of taking seriously Arthur Merlin Lancelot Guinevere and the whole Camelot crew In any event I can't work up any interest in battles uests and damsels in distress But then Steinbeck stopped translating Malory and started writing like Steinbeck and the work was suddenly a lot interesting I particularly loved Sir Lancelot's story I not only stopped being bored I found myself wishing that Steinbeck had finished the work That said the last 25% of the book is for someone who loves Steinbeck the most interesting of all It consists of a series of letters Steinbeck wrote to his literary agent Elizabeth Otis and his researcher Chase Horton In these letters Steinbeck is full of insight fierce intelligence and passion I remembered some of them from Steinbeck's collected letters but others I either hadn't read or didn't remember I should have read this part of the book before I embarked on the Arthurian tales Had I done so I would have better understood what it was that Steinbeck was trying to achieve All in all reading this work is a worthwhile experience for a dedicated Steinbeck fan even though it took a long time for me to realise it I'm glad I didn't give in to a strong impulse to abandon the work after the first chapter That said I won't be reading it again and it hasn't turned me into an Arthurian fan John Steinbeck would be very disappointed in me 35 stars Although I'm not yet totally convinced I want to read Steinbeck's first novel Cup of Gold a fact that tends to undermine my would be Steinbeck completist credentials


  5. Wayne Barrett Wayne Barrett says:

    This is a tough one to rate The story is great but basically it's just a retelling of Morte d'Arthurs tale I was expecting the story from a different angle told in Stienbecks uniue style so I was left disappointed I've read so many versions that this time I think I just became overwhelmed with all the knights damsels and cleaving of helms I was actually having a hard time taking it serious and at some points I couldn't help but picturing scenes from Monty Pythons Holy Grail Every time a knight went on a uest I kept expecting him to run into the knights who say NiThis would be okay for an Arthurian newbie but if you've read other versions you could probably do without this one


  6. Lea Lea says:

    I found this hard to get through in the beginning and was completely hooked by the end sadly Steinbeck never finished this I think the uality of the segments varies and it feels a little strange to read something that the author never considered finished himself I wouldn't want someone criticize my writing on a first or second draft With that said some of the earlier sections were not that engaging to me I really didn't find Merlin interesting for example These parts felt a bit like reading the Bible or Icelandic sagas Kind of cool but very detached and not thrilling The Lancelot chapters on the other hand were super engaging As was the chapter on Gawain Both times I wished they were longer I have never read any other book about King Arthur so I can't compare this retelling honestly the closest I've come is rewatch Monthy Python The Holy Grail a bunch of times But I can speak on its literary merit I was seriously bummed when the book was over


  7. Nicky Nicky says:

    Steinbeck's Arthur novel was never completed and never even properly edited by him I enjoyed it very much as it is I do wish it'd been finished and edited and made consistent If I rated without considering that I'd rate it at least one star less The introduction claiming that it isn't changed substantially from Malory isn't true there's a lot of humanising going on and some additional humour If I held Steinbeck to that too he'd probably lose a starAs it is though bearing these things in mind he gets all the stars I really enjoyed reading his version particularly after the first few tales it felt like after a while he felt his way into it and some of the letters of his included at the end suggest that that's just how it felt to him which is nice to know There's a sort of tenderness in the way he treats the tales a love for them that still allowed him to see the humour a modern audience might find in themI liked his treatment of Kay a little understanding than other writers I think An attempt to understand him And the touch of someone catching Arthur crying which I don't recall being in Malory And some of the descriptions of Lancelot particularly through Lyonel's eyes And here was a Lancelot I could like too although of course Steinbeck never got to the parts where Lancelot was a traitor Still I felt for Lancelot in the last few pagesFor those who know of my affection for Gawain no I don't like his portrayal of Gawain But I'll pass that overOne thing I love specially is something that people tend to find lacking in Malory knowing what people are feeling and I'm particularly talking about Lancelot Malory tells us what he does; Steinbeck tries to tell us whyAnd the thing I love best oh most of all is this The ueen observed I gather you rescued damsels by the dozen She put her fingers on his arm and a searing shock ran through his body and his mouth opened in amazement at a hollow ache that pressed upwards against his ribs and shortened his breathMy breath tooIt's rare because it's a moment that really makes me feel for Lancelot and Guinevere and for their plight I think Steinbeck could have caught me up in their story and hushed my dislike for all they do I wish he'd written it I'd like just once to be swept up in Lancelot and Guinevere's story and to buy into it as somehow justified by passion just as they do Other writers tell that without showing me it Guy Gavriel Kay perhaps excepted but Lancelot and Guinevere aren't the centre of the story he's telling thereI enjoyed it a lot what there is of it and this edition also contains a lot of Steinbeck's letters concerning it while he was writing it Very interesting to read those and get an idea of what was on his mindI think part of what I love here is what the stories could have been than what they are


  8. Kirk Smith Kirk Smith says:

    From a Steinbeck letter dated July 7 1958 There is only one complete Morte d'Arthur in existence and that is the Caxton first edition which is in the Morgan Library in New York There is the earlier manuscript at Winchester College in England that by misfortune of lacking eight sheets at the end might be the one unimpeachable source This then is my basic material for translation Steinbeck loved this project and put three years into it A direct uote from Wiki Steinbeck took a living approach to the retelling of Malory's work He followed Malory's structure and retained the original chapter titles but he explored the psychological underpinning of the events and tuned the use of language to sound natural and accessible to a Modern English speakerMalory wrote the stories for and to his time Any man hearing him knew every word and every reference There was nothing obscure he wrote the clear and common speech of his time and country But that has changed—the words and references are no longer common property for a new language has come into being Malory did not write the stories He simply wrote them for his time and his time understood them And with that almost by enchantment the words began to flow5 Steinbeck aced this one Beautifully told


  9. Chris Dietzel Chris Dietzel says:

    I didn't even know this existed until I found an old copy in a used book store It is incredibly neat that one of my writing idols translated Sir Thomas Malory's Arthurian tales from Middle English into modern English and then added a little bit to the stories where he felt there were gaps The result is a series of tales that become accessible to current audiences The best part for me was the final 60 pages containing Steinbeck's personal letters discussing his translation Steinbeck goes into detail on his approach to editing and translating the problems he is having in both regards and how he plans to fix those issues Those pages in particular are a must read for anyone who has ever tried to edit or translate someone's work


  10. Kathy Kathy says:

    For lovers of King Arthur his knights the continuing mythical tales those who loved the Malory book as children as well as anyone interested in the work and dedication that goes into writing a book Steinbeck's letters during the period of time he was researching and working on a King Arthur book he would never finish The truly remarkable effort was conducted in the late 1950's and I do not know enough about Steinbeck to know how or why he ended things Shortly after he put it to bed it was 1961 when his last novel was published The Winter of our Discontent


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10 thoughts on “The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights

  1. Jason Koivu Jason Koivu says:

    One doesn't associate John Steinbeck with fantasy literature and yet here it is The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck Go figureIt's all here the rags to riches story of how Arthur ascended to the throne the many deeds of his knights the magic of Merlin and Morgan Le FayHis translation of Thomas Malory's version of the Arthurian legend is almost strangely faithful seldom veering from that 15th century work in order to modernize the language enough for today's reader And it is immensely readable I breezed through from start to finish Certainly not every story is a winner Movies tv series and books often skip a good number of the stories and stick with the most well known This gives you the lesser known stuff in full color and it is often beautiful However this faithful translation dismayed and disappointed the publisher who expected a Steinbeckized version of the Arthurian tales something like a Grapes of Wrath gritty tale of down and out knights Don't you too make that mistake when reading this Steinbeck was a childhood fan of these stories and with childlike devotion he captures their essence with a picture perfect imitation intending to flatter via flattery's sincerest form Well done and highly worth a read Well I say all but the book is not actually complete Steinbeck put many years of hard work into this and yet inexplicably didn't finish it

  2. Terry Terry says:

    Is it wrong that this was the first book by Steinbeck that I’ve read? Certainly it is the kind of book one probably wouldn’t have even expected this author to have written Known for his brooding meditations on the harsh life of the American experience in the mid 20th century a translationre working of Malory’s stories about King Arthur and his knights certainly don’t seem like an obvious fit for Steinbeck Reading through the letters written by the author himself in the appendix to this volume however makes it abundantly clear that the project was one that was near and dear to the author’s heart into which he poured a significant amount of time effort and which he himself saw as possibly filling the role of crowning achievement of his work I will here go on record with many other reviewers on Goodreads and state that it is a real shame that for some unknown reason Steinbeck never finished his work on this though even the fragment he left us with is a significant work and one of the better treatments of the Matter of Britain I’ve readI must first admit that I found myself becoming slightly bored with the first third or so of the text True to his words in the introduction Steinbeck hews very closely to his source text Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur and generally follows his plan of “leaving out nothing and adding nothingsince in no sense do I wish to rewrite Malory ” in the first four tales Merlin The Knight with the Two Swords The Wedding of King Arthur and The Death of Merlin I generally have little use for ‘translations’ of Malory since I don’t really see the point; the Middle English he uses isn’t really that difficult for a modern reader to approach and I generally find that ‘modernizing’ the language simply takes the reader a further step from the text without adding anything of use Happily for us Steinbeck seems to have taken advice from his editors to heart and in the subseuent tales really starts making the material his own while still staying true to the spirit of Malory Indeed from the very first sentence of Morgan le Fay one can see Steinbeck breaking new ground and not simply aping his master From here on we are treated to a really excellent interpretation of the tales that seeks to investigate the psychology of these figures from myth without reducing them to little than modern people in medieval drag or diminishing the epic scope of the talesArthur largely remains the peripheral figure he generally has to be for these tales the enigmatic centre around which all of the other characters revolve and from whom they draw their glory Despite this Steinbeck does attempt to invest the tragic king with some elements of individuality and provides one or two tantalizing glimpses of the man underneath the myth We see the king’s early dissatisfaction with the trials of kingship and disappointment in the need to fight rebellion Soon after this Arthur wearied with campaigns and governing and sick of the dark deep walled rooms of castles ordered his pavilion set up in a green meadow outside the walls where he might rest and recover his strength in the uiet and the sweet air We see his growth in wisdom as a leader of men Then Arthur learned as all leaders are astonished to learn that peace not war is the destroyer of men; tranuillity rather than danger is the mother of cowardice and not need but plenty brings apprehension and unease Finally he found that the longed for peace so bitterly achieved created bitterness than ever did the anguish of achieving it Indeed it is this very discontent that prompts Arthur and Guinevere in Steinbeck’s version of the tales to ‘trick’ Lancelot into setting an example for the other knights by adopting the lifestyle of the uest an action that will prove to be both the greatest glory and the greatest sorrow of Arthur’s court Throughout the work are strewn nuggets of wisdom often coming from the mouth of Merlin in the earlier stories and Steinbeck uses these tales of chivalry as an opportunity to meditate on the human condition Thus we have ”Somewhere in the world there is defeat for everyone Some are destroyed by defeat and some made small and mean by victory Greatness lives in one who triumphs eually over defeat and victory” and ”You cannot know a venture from its beginning” Merlin said “Greatness is born little Do not dishonor your feast by ignoring what comes to it Such is the law of uest”I found myself noticing things here that I had missed or glossed over from my initial reading of Malory such as the incongruous nature of the various enchantresses generally known to be “the damsels of the Lady of the Lake and schooled in wonders” They range from the damsel who gave to Arthur his enchanted sword Excalibur the same maiden killed by Sir Balin for ostensibly having had his own mother burned at the stake to the Lady Nyneve the bane of Merlin who despite her role in deceiving the besotted old enchanter stealing his knowledge and leaving him buried alive is not portrayed as evil She does this act to gain power but learns that with great power comes great responsibility In the end she seems to take on Merlin’s role as protector of the realm though in a somewhat lessened capacity and gets her own reward for being true to the lonely path of power that accepts responsibility the love of the good knight Pelleas Finally there are also the four ueens including Morgan le Fay who capture Lancelot and put him to the test with their illusory blandishments They may or may not be members of this same circle of enchantresses but they eually represent part of the same intriguing puzzle just what are they? Members of a school for magic? A group of proto feminists looking for a way to power in a man's world? Something of both or neither? Some seem to be evil working deeds of mischance and violence others good though often they are no less violent in this world of martial law and divine retribution Perhaps it’s most appropriate to say that the true test comes in that some work for their own selfish interests while others work for the common goodIt was also refreshing to see the varied characterization of the uesting knights and their three fascinating ladies in the tale Gawain Ewain and Marhalt Indeed the entire section provides Steinbeck with interesting character studies not to mention much fodder for his social and personal concerns Marhalt rocks and it was very nice to see a knight of Arthur’s court so clear headed and competent without vainglorya rare thing He is a man with both skill and self knowledge the uintessential man of experience and it’s a bit sad to know that his fate in the cycle is to be killed by that jack ass Tristan though Steinbeck does not himself tell this episode The training of young Ewain in many ways the opposite of Marhalt by his own Lady was eually wonderful and showed how far Steinbeck had come much of this tale seems to have been created by Steinbeck himself and yet it in no way felt like he was departing from the spirit of Malory specifically or the Arthurian tales in general The final entry The Noble Tale of Sir Lancelot of the Lake shows Steinbeck truly coming into his own It becomes obvious here and is confirmed by statements made by Steinbeck in the letters found in the appendix that Lancelot was the true centre of Steinbeck’s tale and was the character through whom he hoped to develop the real through line of his thoughts on the Arthurian corpus Lancelot gave the author everything he needed to work through the concepts of human fallibility mixed with nearly superhuman stature The entire theme of the greatest good often leading to the greatest evil could play out in full measure with all of its varied nuances with Lancelot From the description of his life as a young boy hearing Merlin’s prophecy regarding his future peerless knighthood and subseuent desire to fulfill it to the discontent of a man who has honed himself to perfection and is looking for it in an imperfect and jaded world we really begin to get a glimmer of the power Lancelot held as a character for Steinbeck and the heights the author might have achieved had he finished his work Alas such was not to be and we are thus left with only a fragment of what might have been so much Still a fragment is far preferable to nothing at allI can’t close without adding that the letters in the appendix were an unexpectedly intriguing look into the mind of both Steinbeck the man and Steinbeck the writer His complete love for the Arthurian material and especially his deeply felt personal connection to Malory as a writerand single minded devotion to his research came as something of a surprise to me and it was eually fascinating to get a glimpse of his personal ruminations on the writing process In addition to these writerly concerns we get to see Steinbeck the man wrestling with his own fears and feelings of inadeuacy in a work which he thought “should be the best work of my life and the most satisfying” and which he even felt contained “the best prose he had ever written”

  3. Nicky Nicky says:

    I reread this for my dissertation but also because I've wanted to for a while now to see if I still loved it as much and I don't I love it I still mourn for the book it could have been if Steinbeck had finished it if he'd edited it to be a coherent whole The first few sections are well written enough but it's later in the stories that he really decides how to handle his material He takes the basic events of Malory and breathes the life of a modern novel into them thoughts and feelings fears and hopes humour and understanding He makes sense of the way Kay's character changes makes Lancelot likeable and human and his love for Guinevere a real and painful thingIf you know me at all you probably know that I regularly loathe Lancelot and at best tolerate him Steinbeck can do what few others can and make me not only like him but make my heart bleed for him Unfortunately what time and interest he devotes to Lancelot he turns away from Gawain who is most of the worst aspects of himself hereMore than anything this time I was caught by the beauty of Steinbeck's writing I could uote a dozen bits of this for you and I'd still be here typing up some tomorrow morning Again the first few sections aren't impressive it's when he gets to Lancelot that he really shinesI wish I could read and love Malory the way Steinbeck clearly did But I don't mind so much finding the magic at second hand when it's Steinbeck showing me

  4. Kim Kim says:

    I didn't choose to read this book becase I have any particular interest in Arthurian legend Indeed until I read this book almost all of what I knew about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table came from these two filmsand Rather I decided to read John Steinbeck's take on Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur because of my ambition to be a Steinbeck completist it's Steinbeck and his writing that interest me not folklore From reading Jay Parini's biography of Steinbeck and Steinbeck's collected letters Steinbeck A Life in Letters I knew that Steinbeck's love of Malory's work dated from his childhood I also knew how passionate he was about this particular project His intention was to translate Malory rather than to re write Le Morte in order to make the work accessible to modern readers Steinbeck spent several years researching Malory in particular and Arthurian legend in general before he started writing He immersed himself in the language and the geograhy of the work and poured his heart and soul into the project In spite of Steinbeck's passion it remained unfinished poor health and the magnitude of the task ultimately defeated him For the first third of the book I was frankly bored Clearly Arthurian legend is not my thing Or else Monty Python's gags and Lerner and Loewe's music and lyrics have ruined my chances of taking seriously Arthur Merlin Lancelot Guinevere and the whole Camelot crew In any event I can't work up any interest in battles uests and damsels in distress But then Steinbeck stopped translating Malory and started writing like Steinbeck and the work was suddenly a lot interesting I particularly loved Sir Lancelot's story I not only stopped being bored I found myself wishing that Steinbeck had finished the work That said the last 25% of the book is for someone who loves Steinbeck the most interesting of all It consists of a series of letters Steinbeck wrote to his literary agent Elizabeth Otis and his researcher Chase Horton In these letters Steinbeck is full of insight fierce intelligence and passion I remembered some of them from Steinbeck's collected letters but others I either hadn't read or didn't remember I should have read this part of the book before I embarked on the Arthurian tales Had I done so I would have better understood what it was that Steinbeck was trying to achieve All in all reading this work is a worthwhile experience for a dedicated Steinbeck fan even though it took a long time for me to realise it I'm glad I didn't give in to a strong impulse to abandon the work after the first chapter That said I won't be reading it again and it hasn't turned me into an Arthurian fan John Steinbeck would be very disappointed in me 35 stars Although I'm not yet totally convinced I want to read Steinbeck's first novel Cup of Gold a fact that tends to undermine my would be Steinbeck completist credentials

  5. Wayne Barrett Wayne Barrett says:

    This is a tough one to rate The story is great but basically it's just a retelling of Morte d'Arthurs tale I was expecting the story from a different angle told in Stienbecks uniue style so I was left disappointed I've read so many versions that this time I think I just became overwhelmed with all the knights damsels and cleaving of helms I was actually having a hard time taking it serious and at some points I couldn't help but picturing scenes from Monty Pythons Holy Grail Every time a knight went on a uest I kept expecting him to run into the knights who say NiThis would be okay for an Arthurian newbie but if you've read other versions you could probably do without this one

  6. Lea Lea says:

    I found this hard to get through in the beginning and was completely hooked by the end sadly Steinbeck never finished this I think the uality of the segments varies and it feels a little strange to read something that the author never considered finished himself I wouldn't want someone criticize my writing on a first or second draft With that said some of the earlier sections were not that engaging to me I really didn't find Merlin interesting for example These parts felt a bit like reading the Bible or Icelandic sagas Kind of cool but very detached and not thrilling The Lancelot chapters on the other hand were super engaging As was the chapter on Gawain Both times I wished they were longer I have never read any other book about King Arthur so I can't compare this retelling honestly the closest I've come is rewatch Monthy Python The Holy Grail a bunch of times But I can speak on its literary merit I was seriously bummed when the book was over

  7. Nicky Nicky says:

    Steinbeck's Arthur novel was never completed and never even properly edited by him I enjoyed it very much as it is I do wish it'd been finished and edited and made consistent If I rated without considering that I'd rate it at least one star less The introduction claiming that it isn't changed substantially from Malory isn't true there's a lot of humanising going on and some additional humour If I held Steinbeck to that too he'd probably lose a starAs it is though bearing these things in mind he gets all the stars I really enjoyed reading his version particularly after the first few tales it felt like after a while he felt his way into it and some of the letters of his included at the end suggest that that's just how it felt to him which is nice to know There's a sort of tenderness in the way he treats the tales a love for them that still allowed him to see the humour a modern audience might find in themI liked his treatment of Kay a little understanding than other writers I think An attempt to understand him And the touch of someone catching Arthur crying which I don't recall being in Malory And some of the descriptions of Lancelot particularly through Lyonel's eyes And here was a Lancelot I could like too although of course Steinbeck never got to the parts where Lancelot was a traitor Still I felt for Lancelot in the last few pagesFor those who know of my affection for Gawain no I don't like his portrayal of Gawain But I'll pass that overOne thing I love specially is something that people tend to find lacking in Malory knowing what people are feeling and I'm particularly talking about Lancelot Malory tells us what he does; Steinbeck tries to tell us whyAnd the thing I love best oh most of all is this The ueen observed I gather you rescued damsels by the dozen She put her fingers on his arm and a searing shock ran through his body and his mouth opened in amazement at a hollow ache that pressed upwards against his ribs and shortened his breathMy breath tooIt's rare because it's a moment that really makes me feel for Lancelot and Guinevere and for their plight I think Steinbeck could have caught me up in their story and hushed my dislike for all they do I wish he'd written it I'd like just once to be swept up in Lancelot and Guinevere's story and to buy into it as somehow justified by passion just as they do Other writers tell that without showing me it Guy Gavriel Kay perhaps excepted but Lancelot and Guinevere aren't the centre of the story he's telling thereI enjoyed it a lot what there is of it and this edition also contains a lot of Steinbeck's letters concerning it while he was writing it Very interesting to read those and get an idea of what was on his mindI think part of what I love here is what the stories could have been than what they are

  8. Kirk Smith Kirk Smith says:

    From a Steinbeck letter dated July 7 1958 There is only one complete Morte d'Arthur in existence and that is the Caxton first edition which is in the Morgan Library in New York There is the earlier manuscript at Winchester College in England that by misfortune of lacking eight sheets at the end might be the one unimpeachable source This then is my basic material for translation Steinbeck loved this project and put three years into it A direct uote from Wiki Steinbeck took a living approach to the retelling of Malory's work He followed Malory's structure and retained the original chapter titles but he explored the psychological underpinning of the events and tuned the use of language to sound natural and accessible to a Modern English speakerMalory wrote the stories for and to his time Any man hearing him knew every word and every reference There was nothing obscure he wrote the clear and common speech of his time and country But that has changed—the words and references are no longer common property for a new language has come into being Malory did not write the stories He simply wrote them for his time and his time understood them And with that almost by enchantment the words began to flow5 Steinbeck aced this one Beautifully told

  9. Chris Dietzel Chris Dietzel says:

    I didn't even know this existed until I found an old copy in a used book store It is incredibly neat that one of my writing idols translated Sir Thomas Malory's Arthurian tales from Middle English into modern English and then added a little bit to the stories where he felt there were gaps The result is a series of tales that become accessible to current audiences The best part for me was the final 60 pages containing Steinbeck's personal letters discussing his translation Steinbeck goes into detail on his approach to editing and translating the problems he is having in both regards and how he plans to fix those issues Those pages in particular are a must read for anyone who has ever tried to edit or translate someone's work

  10. Kathy Kathy says:

    For lovers of King Arthur his knights the continuing mythical tales those who loved the Malory book as children as well as anyone interested in the work and dedication that goes into writing a book Steinbeck's letters during the period of time he was researching and working on a King Arthur book he would never finish The truly remarkable effort was conducted in the late 1950's and I do not know enough about Steinbeck to know how or why he ended things Shortly after he put it to bed it was 1961 when his last novel was published The Winter of our Discontent

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