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The King

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The King.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Donald Barthelme(Author)

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In The King, a retelling of Le Morte D'Arthur, Donald Barthelme moves the chivalrous Knights of the Round Table to the cruelty of the Second World War. Dunkirk has fallen, Europe is at the breaking point, Ezra Pound and Lord Haw-Haw are poisoning the radio waves, Mordred has fled to Nazi Germany, and King Arthur and his worshipful Knights are deep in the fighting. When the Holy Grail presents itself--which is, in this version, the atomic bomb, "a superweapon if you will, with which we can chastise and thwart the enemy"--they must decide whether to hew to their knightly ways or adopt a modern ruthlessness. Barthelme makes brilliant comic use of anachronism to show that war is center stage in the theater of human absurdity and cruelty. But Arthur, in deciding to decline the power of the Grail, announces his unwillingness to go along: "It's not the way we wage war. The essence of our calling is right behavior, and this false Grail is not a knightly weapon."

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Printable? Yes

Book details

  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • Donald Barthelme(Author)
  • Harpercollins (May 1990)
  • English
  • 5
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Review Text

  • By Susan Muegge on 5 November 2003

    In this book, the characters of Guinevere, Lancelot, and Mordred emerge as actual people wracked with concerns and fears that the reader can understand, even if they are not part of his or her life. The most engaging and complex character of the book by far is Arthur, and this is one of the few pieces of literature that addresses the Arthur behind the crown, the man within the king.Arthur is more than a figurehead for the British people; he is deeply concerned with their welfare, tormented by some of the changes he sees in the world around him, and battling with his own anachronism in this new world.The author's blending of chilvaric codes and modern behavior allows each of the characters to have their own voice separate from the traditional personas of legend. Each must acknowedge or deny their own anachronism and their role in the world.The story, the characters, and Arthur's struggle are set in England in the darkest days of WWII, and it is written with an engaging non-traditional style. For scholars of Arthurian legend or the casual reader who enjoys a unique experience, The King is an intriguing piece of fiction.


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