Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The 306 Greatest Books #145 - Idylls of the King

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson. This book can be found on the Sybervision Book List.

Idylls of the King is an epic poem written in free verse describing the time of King Arthur from the time when he meets Guinevere until the time of his death and the collapse of his Round Table. This is a spiritual sequel to The Lady of the Lake, and in more than one instance I had wished I had read that story immediately before beginning this one (although reading my review of how much I didn't like it, I'm probably sure I'm glad I didn't). At first, while reading through this poem I was greatly dismayed due to the difficulty in understanding anything that was going on. I would get lost in the poem not knowing who did what, or why, or even care who or why. I realized this had to be one of those stories where I read a summary of the events in each section before I read the section. After I started doing that, the story became much easier to follow. If I became lost at any point, I was able to pick the story thread back up fairly easily. The story is laid out in 12 chapters. Each chapter is essentially a stand alone story that occurs during the time of King Arthur, which few threads weaving through the whole narrative. The narrative builds though, and by the end does make a bit of sense. The primary underlying theme of the stories is Lancelot's eternal love for Queen Guinevere and how eventually they become lovers, bringing the downfall of Camelot. The story itself is often sparse, being filled with the flowery language of the poem. At times the poems is exquisitely worded, however those times would come and go. One thing that stood out to me was the consistently incorrect use of the words "past" instead of "passed" and "bad" instead of "bade". I wasn't sure if it was an editorial issue or that's just how it was, but it drove me nuts.Overall, I was rather bored by the poem and just wished it would be over. Luckily, it's short and that ending came pretty quickly. 

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