Saturday, November 26, 2016

There Was a Young Boy Called Wart

Well, that was his nickname, at least. His real name was Arthur. As in King Arthur. Yep, that's the one.

Tales of the knights of old have held a certain fascination for me for quite some time, as they do for many other people, as well. Look at how popular the Star Wars films have been. Jedi Knights, anyone? Yes, they revived and held true to the old concepts of chivalry. Of course, there was also betrayal, too, but you have that in the stories of the old knights.

Anyway, back to where I started. Arthur. I had picked up "The Sword in the Stone" by T. H. White several years and tried reading it, but I just wasn't ready for it at that time. You know how it is. Sometimes a book grabs you immediately, other times you have to wait a while before you're ready for it, and then there are times when certain books just never do take hold of you.

It's an interesting style of telling the Arthurian legend that Mr. White uses. Sort of conversational. He breaks the fourth wall often, talking to us, the readers, slipping forward in time, looking back, going to a time before Arthur. He weaves historical facts in with the beauty of the legend, so that many times I'll write down some of the phrases and words to look up later. And naturally, being a student of words, I love digging into their origins.

Oh, almost forgot. He also makes references to other Arthurian researchers and storytellers, including and especially Thomas Malory, who wrote "Le Morte d'Arthur", published in 1485. If I maintain my current inertia and fascination with Arthur, once I finish the "Once and Future King" and "The Book of Merlyn", I'll track that one down next.

One of the expressions I like from the book is "up-so-down", an earlier version of our "upside down". Makes me wonder if there was a transitional phrase between these two.

Another expression used by Merlyn when he's teaching Arthur about morality is "Nunc dimittis", also known as "Song of Simeon" from the New Testament. It was a song of praise sung by Simeon when he realized baby Jesus was the Saviour. When Arthur asks Merlyn if his thinking is correct about a certain subject, "Nunc dimittis" was Merlyn's response. Perfectly cryptic for Merlyn.

There are plenty of other examples of terms for places, weapons, and foods, so if you're as much of a word fanatic as I am, I recommend T. H. White's Arthurian novels.

Happy reading, and keep writing, friends.

1 comment:

  1. I too enjoyed T.H. White's witty and conversational wordplay. Excellent book. Clark aka anonymous


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