The legend of King Arthur is one of the longest-lasting and most-beloved epics in the English language. And it was Sir Thomas Malory who first arranged all of the tales into a long, English text back in 1485, calling it Le Morte D'Arthur. Here, with an expert performance from award-winning actor John Franklyn-Robbins, is one of the most famous tales from Arthurian legend: The Holy Grail. The Grail has a long link to Christian legend, and is the ultimate symbol for a knight's quest. Listen along as King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table embark on their greatest quest.
(P)1992 by Recorded Books, Inc.
This audiobook is an excerpt from the larger story cycle told by Thomas Malory and printed in 1485, the Morte d'Arthur, the Death of Arthur stories, which have inspired so many modern works, including Lord of the Rings. The reading is lovely. Much of the original language is kept and though words are different and turned around in meaning sometimes, one very quickly catches on, because the reader keeps modern pronunciation. One of my favorite discoveries from this reading was how Malory likes to make rhyming paired alternatives: we still say "whether he will or nil," but he also says "would or nood" and "wist or nist" for knowing or not knowing. All you really need to know to understand this book from (barely) pre-Tudor times is that Siege means seat, not a warfare tactic. As in the Siege Perilous, that only Galahad could safely sit in at the Round Table. Siege is simply a French word, and they used some French in those days that we have exchanged for other French these days.
The story cycle of the search for the Grail is short and makes sense from beginning to end. It follows not only the original story by Chretien de Troyes, who probably first imagined the Grail, but the amendments quickly added by other writers such as Robert de Boron to Christianize the story, making the Grail a cup and in fact, THE cup, and adding in Joseph of Arimathea. The original glimpse of the Grail that we got from Chretien was none too Christian and then the author died before he finished the story, so his bestseller book sorely needed a quick fix and got fixes from writers across Europe. Malory faithfully reports the dominant legend as it came down to him from the early 13th century, almost three centuries before he wrote his great collection of Arthur stories.
The Grail tales are lively and vivid and have, as intended, many ethical issues which were no doubt discussed in 15th century book discussions. Which should Bors rescue, a maiden being raped, or his brother being beaten to death with whips from thorn bushes? Lionel survives, but one can appreciate just how seriously annoyed he was at the choice Bors made. What about that queen whose illness could only be cured by (a lot) of blood from a maiden? Was it really an appropriate moral decision for Perceval's sister to sacrifice herself? And what about the 24 tombs of similar maidens the knights found after she died? Hmmmmmm. Needs thought.
This audiobook would be great for fans of the Holy Grail, for Malory fans, and for young people who can only profit from grounding in our basic English literature without being bored.
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