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Thread: Le Morte D'Arthur

  1. #1
    Registered User bootyqueen's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Calgary, Canada

    Unhappy Le Morte D'Arthur

    This book has been sitting on my shelf for 4 years now, and I just can't get into it..... Has anyone else out there had problems with it??? I have no idea what the mental block is about, maybe because of the older language?
    Does anyone think it's pretty easily read?
    Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.
    Oscar Wilde

  2. #2
    The language was a challenge to me, at first, but it didn't take very long to get used to it. I think it helped that I read some Spenser before I read Le Morte D'Arthur. Perhaps you would benefit from reading some of the poems in The Shepherd's Calendar, for example. You would be able to practice on something shorter and less intimidating, and thus, perhaps, easier to stay motivated through (not to mention that Spenser's poetry is absolutely wonderful).

    I also happened to have an annotated edition of LMDA (the Norton Critical Edition, edited by Stephen Shepherd), which also tried to simulate the rubrication of the manuscript (I guess the proper names were written in red in the original copies). I found the annotation only somewhat helpful (I didn't bother to look down at the footnotes most of the time), but the simulated rubrication made it feel easier to read for some reason which I can't quite put my finger on.

  3. #3
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Nov 2005
    New York
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    You do have the version with modern spelling? That made a big difference for me. Otherwise the language wasn't too difficult once you got used to it. I came away thinking that Malory was a wonderful styist.
    Last edited by Virgil; 03-05-2006 at 04:37 PM.

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  4. #4
    Malory is without doubt one of my favorite writers because of the subject and how he deals with it of course, but I loved the language, it is very beautiful to me.
    I think it helped to have British teachers that loved him as well when I was a child. Our teachers always taught us it was good for us to read higher than we understood at the time, that it stretched the imagination and gave us an appetite for such works. I just love him.

  5. #5
    fated loafer
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    I read the first half untranslated and the second half translated becasue I didn't have enough time left in the summer to finish it in it's origional form, but the book was too big to lug away from my parent's house. I agree that once you got used to the idea that something can be spelled anyway you like, you just have to sound things out. The only problem I had was when an archaic word was used, like the word "hart" for a stag, I didn't know the word and it was spelled differently so the whole sentence and the following didn't make sense. But if you have a copy of it in modern english as well then you can go to the section and line and look up anything that doens't make sense.

  6. #6
    I think what it is that might prevent some from jumping into the depths of Malory, is the noticeable difference between his writing and that of the Grail Quest masters of an earlier epoch. Some of the snippets that make their way into the subconsciousness of many a boy and girl, in their first love of King Arthur come from differing traditions, as to time of writing, and the style of each written source. If you were looking to find the whole spectrum of what blended together to make a first impression upon your psyche in Malory alone, you may have entered his territory feeling half lost. Set aside all childhood expectations, and look into the story through this teller's eyes. Then see what aspect of your earlier impression came from him. That he alone did not inject everything you expected into your psyche does not rob him of the beauty of his color in the spectrum of your whole absorption of the Arthurian Romance into your heart and mind.

  7. #7
    Worthless Hack Zippy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    West Coast of Scotland
    I read Le Morte Dí Arthur many years ago after coming across a two-part Penguin paperback edition in my high school English class. I borrowed them and (almost 16 years later) still have them.

    I suppose editions vary, but I donít recall having any trouble with the language. I soon found myself caught up in the story and found it extremely accessible, especially given the time it was written.

    Although Mallory wrote Le Morte íD Arthur using earlier texts as reference I couldnít help but see the truth in some of the situations he describes. The really fascinating stuff, to me at least, are the little scenes and snippets outside of the established legend of Arthur and his knights.

    For instance a scene with Sir Butler. He is described as a bit of a simpleton, not a real knight at all, but the kingís fool. The other knights think it would be a bit of a laugh to dress him in armour and put him on a horse, planning to drive him into the woods to scare another knight so heíll think heís under attack. It all ends disastrously with poor Sir Butler being killed. The whole scene rung true to me, given that there is a germ of truth in every legend, if the knights really existed then, because of life expectancy, presumably they would be a lot younger than we would think now. They were probably in their late teens or early twenties. The whole episode with Sir Butler has the feel of a kind of frat-boy prank gone wrong.

    Anyway, all Iím trying to say is stick with it. Le Morte Dí Arthur is well worth the effort.

    Last edited by Zippy; 03-07-2006 at 01:45 PM.

  8. #8
    Professional Killer cornboy's Avatar
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    Apr 2008

    Not to worry......

    the Caxton is indeed challenging, not only because of the writing style that Mallory employed, but also the vocabulary of the day. so many terms in old and middle english as well as archaic forms. many consults to Mirriam Webster online for me. i did find, though, that i became quite fluent in the language to the point that i was no longer deciphering as i read. i was simply reading. having read, Sir Knowle's version (written with the hope of making the texts more accessible to the common man) and recently, Steinbecks manuscripts, there is quite a variation. I truly wish Mr. Steinbeck could have finished his dream of completion before his death. i strongly urge any Morte admirer to page through it. it is beautifully written and superbly captures the scenes and humanness of characters. WAH! long winded, i am.

    Question: what is "Bain"?????
    "....the Queen and La Beale Isoud made a bain for sir Tramtrist. And when he was in his bain the queen and Isoud........."

    a bath? a potion? what????

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