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The History of the Kings of Britain (Classics)


The History of the Kings of Britain (Classics)

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    Available in PDF Format | The History of the Kings of Britain (Classics).pdf | English
    Geoffrey of Monmouth(Author) Lewis Thorpe(Introduction Translator)
Completed in 1136, The History of the Kings of Britain traces the story of the realm from its supposed foundation by Brutus to the coming of the Saxons some two thousand years later. Vividly portraying legendary and semi-legendary figures such as Lear, Cymbeline, Merlin the magician and the most famous of all British heroes, King Arthur, it is as much myth as it is history and its veracity was questioned by other medieval writers. But Geoffrey of Monmouth's powerful evocation of illustrious men and deeds captured the imagination of subsequent generations, and his influence can be tracedthrough the works of Malory, Shakespeare, Dryden and Tennyson.

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Review Text

  • By Yasmin Foster on 14 July 2017

    For something written nearly a millennium ago, this is a very readable account of what those in Norman-Britain thought was the history of the country that had only been invaded a generation ago. It echoes the Aeneid, where Britain’s origins were pictured as noble as that of Rome, by giving them the same origins: the Fall of Troy. From Brutus (a descendant of Aeneas) we are taken through the arrival of Julius Caesar, the squabbles for the crown that a Game of Thrones fan would appreciate, to the coming of the Saxons and the reign of King Arthur – this being the one of the first mentions of Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, Mordred, Uther, Excalibur/Caliburn and certainly the book that shot the king into legend.Of course, the readability could be due to the translator (I love the some of the sardonic footnotes, like the one that points out King Arthur’s hypocrisy) but Geoffrey hasn’t seemed to waste too many pages on details – well, not often, as in the classical style, he sometimes gives lists of important names and the speeches can go on a bit (but there are few of those) and Merlin’s Prophecies is such a beast that it has its own chapter, but all of those are easily skippable if the reader is not interested. Granted, Geoffrey does seem to make mistakes now and again, especially in the family trees, and, of course, this book should not be seen as History (with a capital H) for it is inaccurate, historical accuracy was not a priority in those days.It is interesting to read what the Normans thought was the ideal king: none is the more perfectly personified by King Arthur, who is, by modern standard, a bit of a Napoleon (that’s putting it nicely). This is the Arthur before the French began to romanticise him and before all the legends that we are familiar with, but Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account was probably the root of all it.

  • By Aralinya on 21 November 2015

    Arrived in good time, satisfied with purchase.

  • By Ian Brawn on 15 September 2013

    This is an odd book. As history it's no good, because it's mostly false. As a work of fiction it's often too brisk to be engaging. King after King is born, fights, looses, dies. The headline star is Arthur, of course. Whereas some kings have their lives summarised in a paragraph, Arthur has 49 pages, over a fifth of the book devoted to him.The account of Arthur given here differs from the later, romantic tales in ways that are good and bad. One the plus side, the focus stays on Arthur and doesn't drift to the knights of his court. Best of all, this is a version without that dreadful prig Lancelot (the most irritating character in English literature). On the minus side, Arthur's story is reduced to little more than a series of battles, and Geoffrey's account of his death, or retirement to Avalon, is even more cursory than Malory's.Some of the other Kings whose lives are recounted here, such as Lear, Vortigern, Aurelius Ambrosius and Cadwallo, are actually more interesting. Sometimes this is because of their characters, sometimes it's because of the events through which they live, sometimes it's because their stories appear to lie closer to true history than those of Merlin and Brutus, for example. This is the main attraction of this book: not the fact that it inspired later writers like Shakespeare, etc., but the teasing prospect that somewhere in here, beneath all the distortion and elaboration, lie nuggets of truth.

  • By Cameron Hunter on 18 September 2014

    The item is as it was described by the seller and is of perfect quality.

  • By Thomas P on 16 February 2013

    Really good book, detailing the (often mythological) ancient history of Britain, with a large section on King Arthur and Merlin's prophecies; which are reason enough to purchase the book! Expect bloodshed, epic battles and pillaging...

  • By Brinley on 27 May 2017

    Excellent product superb delivery

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