|About the Book|
The Once and Future King defies classification. Is it for children, or for adults? Is it fantasy or a psychological novel? In its great range, it encompasses poetry and farce, comedy and tragedy --and sudden flights of schoolboy humour. WhitesMoreThe Once and Future King defies classification. Is it for children, or for adults? Is it fantasy or a psychological novel? In its great range, it encompasses poetry and farce, comedy and tragedy --and sudden flights of schoolboy humour. Whites footnote to Malory (his own phrase) resulted in the last major retelling of the story based on Malorys Morte Darthur, and Elisabeth Brewer explores the literary context of Whites finest work as well as considering his aims and achievement in writing it. Whites story of Arthur begins with his enfances, set in an imaginary medieval England, but it is far removed from the conventional historical novel. White was writing in wartime England, a country increasingly absorbed by a need to find an antidote to war. Through the medium of the Arthurian story he found his own voice, his unique contribution to keeping alive the flame of civilisation. Malorys chivalric virtues are rejected in favour of Whites own twentieth-century values- the love affair of Lancelot and Guenever is interpreted in terms of modern psychology. The books which eventually made up The Once and Future Kingof 1958 appeared in distinctly different editions. In discussing these, Elisabeth Brewer looks at some of the ways in which White drew on his own personal experience at a deep psychological level, while also incorporating into his story material inspired by his antiquarian pursuits and by his years as a schoolmaster. She completes her study with an account of Whites use of historical material, and the relationship of The Once and Future King to the Morte Darthur. ELISABETH BREWER lectured in English at Homerton College, Cambridge. She is the author of books and articles on Chaucer and the Arthurian legends.