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Le Morte Darthur: The Winchester Manuscript (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – December 15, 2008


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Le Morte Darthur: The Winchester Manuscript (Oxford World's Classics) + The History of the Kings of Britain (Penguin Classics) + Arthurian Romances (Penguin Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reissue edition (December 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199537348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199537341
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Helen Cooper is Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Oxford and Tutorial Fellow, University College, Oxford. She is author of Oxford Guides to Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales (Clarendon Press 1989,rev 1996).

Customer Reviews

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Not for the common reader, though!
Erin Parsons
I haven't read numerous other editions, so I can't compare this, but what I can say is that you'll be a richer person for reading this book.
DDC
The chapters include numbering from the Caxton text -- very useful.
ALA

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By DDC VINE VOICE on June 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a review of Le Morte D'Arthur: The Winchester Manuscript (Oxford World's Classics). I haven't read numerous other editions, so I can't compare this, but what I can say is that you'll be a richer person for reading this book. I don't claim that it will be easy, as significant amounts of historical English permeate the text. After a little while, though, your brain will switch over and it will be easier. There are a tremendous number of endnotes to help the reader along and a table of translations that also comes in handy.

Months after reading this I still find myself recalling the characters and stories. If you've never read it, this is as good an edition as any and I truly am happy I read this book.

Update: I now have this book in both paperback and kindle versions. The kindle version is very nice, with the included glossary and appropriate footnotes. Plus, the kindle on-board dictionary knows a ton of the more old-fashioned words, which should help you out a lot. I love having it on kindle, as I enjoy rereading some of the tales. I highly recommend this version.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "curunner" on October 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Oxford World's Classics edition of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur is a superb text for students and the casually curious reader alike. It is the first publication of Le Morte Darthur based on the Winchester Manuscript designed for the general reader; more prominent are the editions which are compilations of Caxton's print version.
Editor Helen Cooper does a wonderful job of tackling the problem of presenting a coherent and comprehensive version of a medieval text for a twentieth century audience. Although this rendition of Le Morte Darthur is slightly abridged, it still retains its original charm. The preservation of a good deal of the vernacular in the text and the convenient glossary and footnotes really help to define the medieval setting of the story. The actual story of the life of King Arthur is most enjoyable as well, especially now that Cooper's introduction and explanatory notes enhance it. Malory's exposé of the Arthurian legend is lively enough that one can easily read this book for pleasure - the story-line and plot are more cleverly developed than, say, Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, which seems to present itself as a chronology of dubious events. In her introduction, Cooper provides a bit of a factual background for Malory and explains many of his subtle allusions intended for his contemporary medieval audience, all of which adds to the reader's understanding of Le Morte Darthur in the context of the fifteenth century. Scholarly readers may also find Cooper's annotated bibliography quite useful.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Andy Ochs on October 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
Sir Thomas Malory's rendition of the Arthurian legend, Le Morte Darthur, is one of the most complete, clear, and enjoyable versions of the story. Malory combines aspects of Arthurian stories found in other works into one complete volume. Le Morte Darthur gives the reader a taste of the romance, as found in lais of Marie de France, as well as the battles and gallantry found in Geoffrey of Monmouth's The History of the Kings of Britain. This edition, based on the Winchester Manuscript and edited by Helen Cooper, combines the battles and romances into a cohesive and enjoyable story which encompasses the stores of Merlin, the quest for the grail, the story of Tristan, and Lancelot and Guenivere.

Malory wrote his story in the late 15th century, and while it was in English, the spelling would be hardly distinguishable to the modern reader. Cooper has edited the text for clarity, but its character is left intact by Cooper's refusal to change words. Included in the book is a table of words that are not commonly used, or appear to mean something other than their intention. This takes some getting used to, but once they sink in, the reader will be appreciative because this language gives the book flair and one does not feel like he or she is reading a modern text. In other Arthurian literature that has been translated from Anglo-Norman, French, or English, much of the original writers craft has been lost, and poetry has become prose. In Cooper's edition of Le Morte Darthur Malory's original work is better represented, and provides a more enjoyable story.

Malory's combination of romance and battle, and the breadth of his story give the reader a lot of material to peruse. The story covers almost every area of the Arthurian legend, and Cooper has edited it in a style so as to keep the Old English feel. This makes Le Morte Darthur the most complete and enjoyable piece of Arthurian literature available.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kavita Mahulikar on October 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur is one of the better known texts of the Arthurian legends. The text describes in great detail the history of the Arthurian world and expands on Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain by portraying many of the other characters in the Arthurian legends as well as King Arthur himself. One of the renditions of this tale is the Oxford Wold Classics edition of the Winchester Manuscript of Le Morte Darthur edited by Helen Cooper. This book is an excellent edition of the Malory's work and although the language may be a bit difficult to understand for the modern reader, Cooper does an excellent job of making the language and the ideas of the book understandable for all readers.
The book begins with a detailed and informative introduction, which not only presents the many themes that are present in the book, but also describes the biography of Sir Thomas Malory himself and the circumstances in which he wrote the book. For instance Cooper describes the life of Malory and his criminal record as well as presents the major themes of the book ,which include, knighthood, romance and chivalry. The introduction is very clear and provides a helpful overview of Malory's work and the history surrounding Le Morte Darthur.
In addition to an informative introduction the book also contains several other tools that allow the reader to gain a better sense of understanding of Malory's work. The book has a chronology of Arthurian material as well as a useful glossary of uncommon words that appear frequently in the text.
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