The Once and Future King by TH White: a review

Like most of the LibraryThing reviewers, I love this book. This is a contemporary–essentially, as of World War II–retelling of the King Arthur Story. It’s full of literary and cultural references from throughout English history, some of which I recognize without checking and others which occasionally send me looking for sources. None of the historical references, though, detract from the story; they just add a rich layer on an already-delightful tale. And questions raised by each of the component novels are pretty much ageless.

But the book is also full of contemporary (to White) references that I expect will age in ways which resemble Malory’s–academics will recognize them, but casual readers may find them difficult, or even incomprehensible. Modern readers just don’t see the Nazis the same way my parents’ generation saw them, and the communist threat, for those who still fear it, has become quite different from the Cold War that dominated my childhood.

Nonetheless, a wonderful book that re-reads quite as well as I remember it from youthful readings.

This review was originally published on LibraryThing.

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