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The Book of Merlyn: The Unpublished Conclusion to The Once and Future King Paperback – 1988


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; Reprint edition (1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 029270769X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292707696
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Superb reading.”—The Kansas City Star

“Filled with poignance and marvelous power…Enthusiasts for White’s touching, profound, funny, and tragic story will not want to miss this version, for it is the true and intended ending of the great work.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“And so the grand epic comes full circle, ‘rounded and bright and done,’ as White had wished it would be.”—Boston Sunday Globe
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

T. H. White is the author of the classic Arthurian fantasy The Once and Future King, among other works.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I have been reading ( and rereading) this remarkable book for nearly five decades.
mukunda777
He even seems to be using Merlyn merely as an excuse; what he wants is to vent on some pet philosophical ideas.
Mark L. Williams
So, if you read the series, I think that you don't need to read this one, but if you want to, go ahead.
Erika Marí

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 76 people found the following review helpful By M.McC on January 12, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The Book of Merlyn was an incredible book, once again proving the genius of T.H. White. This book is the only sensible conclusion to the Once and Future King and should have been included in the original printing. In The Book of Merlyn, we revisit King Arthur on the night before his final battle with his son, Mordred. Feeling dejected and alone, Arthur's mentor, the lovably eccentric and ingenious Merlyn, returns and whisks the king away to learn two final lessons from the animals he knew as a child. This book is not merely a childish fairytale, but rather an in-depth dissection of human nature in which the human condition is explored in depth and the ever-elusive meaning of life is hinted at. A book for the serious reader or any serious fan of Arthur and Merlyn, The Book of Merlyn is a masterpiece from the mind of one of the greatest writers of the past one hundred years.
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By R.B. on June 19, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you like the Once and Future King as an amuzing story, then watch out, this book is not for you. Here White elevates his discussions to probe humanity's own lack of humanity. Having witnessed the horrors of World War II, White brilliantly exploits the Arthurian legend to analyze and discuss humans: are we as grand as we think we are? Is there hope? Are King Arthur's efforts (or, archetypally, the efforts of any human who is engaged in helping out the human race) fruitful or simply futile?
This is a humanistic work that dares to challenge the assumptions of humanism. Merlyn uses strong polemic to not only argue that humans are bad for nature (this is an incomplete understanding of the text) but that we have less "humanity" than vrtually all other animals. This view seems to be in direct conflict to Arthur's wish to salvage humanity. Yet Merlyn does not see it as a fatalistic view, he very much still shows hope.
The Book of Merlyn is a top-down, ideological examination of humanism enveloped in the archetypal Arthurian myth. It is not a bed-time story. It is not about lovely castles and romantic imagery.
It is about humanity.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
The marvelous 5th book of T. H. White's incredible Arthurian saga. This one, in it's complete lack of swordplay and thrill, is set apart from the preceeding four.

Ok, the first four--definately the Story is the major priority. Focal characters: Arthur, then after "The Sword in the Stone" the focus shifts to Lancelot and the queen, and to a lesser extent the Orkneys, etc. In the final chapter the reader is brought back to Arthur, whose musings on the nature of Man and War also smears our noses in these two essential elements, whose dissection was an important objective in the story for White.

Yeah, yeah, anyone who's read the book knows that. But what about the "Book of Merlyn"?

Well, picture drawing aside the glitter and pizzaz of the storyline that has won over so many people to focus on that teaming world of philosophy and abstract thought that Merlin had shown Arthur as a young king. Take "The Sword in the Stone", a primarily whimsical book in which I believe White first lay the groundwork for the "Book of Merlyn", return an aged, experienced and almost broken Arthur to this sort of setting, and...tada! bring back Merlin and the animals(or rather bring Arthur back to them). There now follows that dissection of War and Man we were talking about.

Yup, the whole book is essentially White's essay on these two subjects, given in a long philisophical discussion between the animals, Merlin, and an older Arthur in the comfort of the Badger's underground burrow(Nimue's cave, ha ha!).

Now for those who are thinking ,"Ye gods, the horror!", I gotta admit, in part, you're right.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By thereviewer on October 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
as i said in my title, this book is very different. if you're looking for an arthurian read with a plot, stay away. because this book has no plot. it is set just before arthur leaves for his fatal battle with mordred. merlyn and all of the animals he learned from as a boy have gathered together and are pondering different things, and the morals of the lessons merlyn teaches. arthur is taken on more journeys with the animals, with the ones of the geese and ants repeated (there are also additional ones). it really makes you think, and it delves deeper into the arthurian legend and its morals. this is a wonderful book, and should be read directly after the once and future king for the full effect.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Professor/author T.H. White wrote a powerful work that provokes inquiries from the reader. The complex characters serve as backboards for the major themes that vary from war to humanity resorting to primitive ways. White constructs a simple plot and adds layer upon layer of wordplay, philosophies, political views, and much more to transform the basic premise into something magical. The most warped character of all, the bumbling eccentric Merlyn, serves as White's voice throughout. The weary Arthur's gripes seem so genuine that the reader may empathize with the lonely soul. White's work contains some of the only material that can be compared with that of fantasy master J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien and White both utilized dead Anglo-Saxon languages' roots and base words to the maximum, mixing Old English prefixes with Norse suffixes. This is a brilliant work, I highly recommend it.
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