The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King - "The Once and Future King" was very strong in the beginning, and had a surprising amount of humor. Things like the Questing Beast, prophecy, and Merlin's power became inside jokes that carried on for the rest of the story. T.H. White clearly did his research, and mentioned Malory's "Morte de Arthur" several times. He mentioned dozens of the Round Table knights, and gave them intricate backstories. He also cleverly incorporated some Robin Hood aventures. The language was a little bit dense, but that didn't become a problem until the final chapters of the novel. Some of the densest sections of the novel belonged to Lancelot. Lancelot becomes a major player in the story, and his inner monologues are incredibly verbose and are often unlikeably self-serving. Lancelot's anti-hero antics become very static; he didn't seem to evolve very much, and he got stuck in these self-pitying spirals that only ended when White moved on to another character. In this part of the novel, humor was gone and T.H. White took to randomly ranting about future wars and modern-day machines. This didn't make a lot of sense when I was reading it, since none of what White complained about had been invented yet. The biggest issue I had with the narration was White's prejudice. White would go on abrupt tirades about Irish/Gaelic history, and would ramble on for paragraphs about their violent lineage and their inferiority to the Norman way. He mentioned the IRA at once point, and Scottish Nationalism, two items which were too modern for the time period and had absolutely no bearing on the story. I found that distasteful and, when doing this, it definitely hampered the story. (White also made some odd remarks about the Jewish faith that I was surprised to find in the novel.) Iornically, the character White complained about the most, relating to Ireland, was Sir Gawain--who was the saving grace of the latter part of the book, in my opinion. Gawain is a very headstrong character, loyal to his family but also loyal to the Round Table. Despite White's somewhat unfair portrayal of him, Gawain struck me as one of the Table's most enigmatic and interesting knights. Whereas several of the other knights were oversimplified, Gawain remained emotionally divided throughout the story. In fact, while reading, I expected many more chapters dedicated to Gawain, and I was disappointed when I didn't get them. All in all, I credit these three stars to the first part of the novel, the humor, and some of the most complicated knightly figures.