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review of malory's complete works, edited by vinaver

Complete Works - Eugène Vinaver, Thomas Malory

cross-posted at goodreads and the mo-centric universe.

 

my copy of le morte d'arthur is the vinaver edit. i haven't read it in years, but picking it up now, i assure you this copy is well-thumbed and annotated from my first reading in university. in the first fifty pages, i have written in a very small hand above words to explain their meanings, as i did when reading other, older middle english works much more difficult to ken. still, i smile when i see that i have copied from the glossary "provoked" over "syke" which rings so closely to our modern "psych!". eventually the notations taper off, as i began to get the rhythm and word structures set in my head but there is pencil-underlining throughout the texts, and bright-pink pen underlining some of the notes at the back. i see here that i argued with some of the notes in the margins. i read the hell out of this book, twice. there is a major crack in the spine at page 519, in book 8 of "the quest for the holy grail" or more properly the "Sankgreall". i find i even made the time to draw a two-tone flower on the page thickness, and more faintly, a pencil one-eyed monster eye, and a triton.

 

i had always had a soft spot for Arthurian legend and i was thrilled to read Malory's translation of the French tales in English. despite the lengthy and repetitive lists of who slaughtered whom in battle after battle, i loved reading it. i have always been interested in questions of honour and what is right, for the individual, and what he must forsake for the right to honour in his community as a whole. there is both blame and beauty in this book, and notes i scribbled in its blank pages at the end show i was preoccupied with these ideas, of camelot as a dream, and arthur's inability to ignore the slights to his own personal honour in order to protect it.

 

the last lines i underlined are these: "And therefore, seyde the king, wyte you well, my harte was never so hevy as hyte ys now. And much more I am soryar for my good knytes losse than for the losse of my fayre queen; for quenys I myghte have inow, but such a felyship of good knytes shall never be togydirs in no company. And now i dare sey, seyde the kynge Arthur, there was never Crystyn kynge that ever hylde such a felyship togydyrs. And alas, that ever sir Launcelot and I shulde be at debate! A, Aggravayne, Aggravayne,! seyd the kynge, Jesu forgyff hit thy soule, for thyne evyll wyll that thou haddist and sir Mordred, thy brother, unto sir Launcelot hath caused all this sorow. And ever among thes complayntes the kynge wept and sowned."

 

 

Creative Commons License This work by Maureen de Sousa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.