as the shell casings of dead children, educators, and gunman -- today of newtown, connecticut -- ricocheted around my brain, my hands strayed over the bookcases, and landed here. another occasion to contribute to the ruination of copyright protections. i don't think white would have minded, much. if you're unfamiliar with his Book of Merlyn, please, go and buy a copy.
here is the wikipedia "plot summary":
The book opens as King Arthur prepares himself for his final battle. Merlyn reappears to complete Arthur's education and discover the cause of wars. As he did in The Sword in the Stone, Merlyn again demonstrates ethics and politics to Arthur by transforming him into various animals.
The last chapter of the book takes place only hours before the final battle between King Arthur and his son and nephew Mordred. Arthur does not want to fight after everything that he has learned from Merlyn. He makes a deal with Mordred to split England in half. Mordred accepts. During the making of this deal, a snake comes upon one of Mordred's soldiers. The soldier draws his sword. The opposing side, unaware of the snake, takes this as an act of betrayal. Arthur's troops attack Mordred's, and both Arthur and Mordred die in the battle that follows.
Guenever joins a convent, and remains there till death. Lancelot becomes a hermit and dies a hermit. His last miracle was making the room that he died in smell like heaven.
"Mv FATHER made me a wooden castle big enough to get into, and he fixed real pistol barrels beneath its battlements to fire a salute on my birthday, but made me sit in front the first night—that deep Indian night—to receive the salute, and 1, believing I was to be shot, cried."
Throughout his life White was subject to fears: fears from without—a menacing
psychopathic mother, the prefects at Cheltenham College "rattling their canes," poverty, tuberculosis, public opinion; fears from within—fear of being afraid, of being a failure, of being trapped. He was afraid of death, afraid of the dark. He was afraid of his own proclivities, which might be called vices: drink, boys, a latent sadism. Notably free from fearing God, he was basically afraid of the human race. His life was a running battle with these fears, which he fought with courage, levity, sardonic wit, and industry. -- Prologue, Sylvia Townsend Warner
|homo ferox, The Book of Merlyn, T.H. White|