The Once and Future King

T. H. White's The Once and Future King blends epic and earthiness reminiscent of what Tolkien does in Lord of the Rings.

Six years ago I picked this up and put it down, disgusted with the anachronisms. But then I read a review which had this to say: "it is not for comic effect that his characters use modern slang and refer to such wild anachronisms as Eton and Red propaganda; the reason is that to White the people of this book are not sirrahs or varlets from a creaky costume drama but living, freshly relevant people speaking to the 20th century. Their relationships reflect the author's profound humanity and his respect for the responsible, well-ordered society. . . . the humblest of his characters . . . are useful and likable. Each creature on wing or foot or fin has his just place, his unique lesson."

So I picked it up again. His descriptions of falconry and archery, of haymaking and farming and the feudal system won over my Grizzlebeard reactions. And the rest of it--like his description of Kay's adventure and Robin Hood "brown with weather and poetry" are doing for me what Northern mythology did for C. S. Lewis.

I have yet to finish and make up my mind over it. But right now, it's pure magic.



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