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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Idylls of the King

Idylls of the King - Alfred Tennyson,  J.M. Gray Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson was etched into my memory as a famouse classic from an early age thanks to the card game, "Authors." So now, sixty years later, I finally got around to seeing what the story was all about. The final nudge to read it came from a book group so I had the pleasure of discussing the book with others.

So what did I learn? It's the story of King Arthur in blank verse and iambic pentameter, about a hundred pages worth. It's divided into twelve different stories that are sparingly related to each other. I anticipated encountering the story about Arthur taking the sword out of the stone. But that story wasn't in the book; I guess that story was written another author.

The following are some unanswered questions. Is the Lady of the Lake a spirit, ghost or what? What is Merlin, a practitioner of magic, doing in a story that takes place in the Christian era? How could the story be so passionless, and at the same time have an adulterous affair between Lancelot and Guinevere?

It seemed to me that Tennyson was taking himself a bit too seriously. He was sort of saying, "Look at me. I'm writing this magnificent poem about the beginnings of English civilization. He dedicates it to Queen Victoria in memory of the deceased Prince Albert. Can't get anymore important that that!

The book is a chore to read, and I don't have the patience to truly appreciate it. I think it's a book that needs to read twice, once to read the story and a second time to appreciate the skillful word smithing and poem construction.