Of course, since the unifying theme is the affair between Lancelot and Guinevere and the chaos it brings, and since except for the first two stories the idylls are dark as all get out, it's also a depressing read. Also, as in many iterations of the Arthurian legend, there are the obvious spiritual parallels drawn between Arthur and Christ that always strike me as singularly suspect. Jun 15, SarahC rated it it was amazing Shelves: arthurian , favorites. This book was every bit as beautiful as I could imagine. I had previously loved and read The Lady of Shalott.
Idylls, however, is a testament to his love and knowledge of Arthurian legend. You'll likely walk away from this book with lots of favorite passages. And you might fall in love with the characters of this legend all over again. Lancelot - " These poems were also another living dedication to Tennyson's lost friend Arthur Hallam. Fans of the Arthur legend shouldn't put off reading Idylls any longer! Jul 08, Laura rated it liked it Recommends it for: Bettie, Carey.
Shelves: audio-books , classics , british-literature , fictionth-century , e-books , poetry , gutenberg , drama , read , historical-fiction. Free download available at eBooks Adelaide. Apr 22, David M. There are certain books, or authors, that don't hold up to modern political correctness. Mark Twain is one of them; Huckleberry Finn is constantly under threat to be banned from American schools. Robert E. Howard's protagonists routinely face villains who embody the worst of early twentieth century stereotypes.
But Tennyson, in Idylls of the King comes under fire for his female characters in his series of epic poems concerning King Arthur and his valorous knights. What is not generally kept in m There are certain books, or authors, that don't hold up to modern political correctness. What is not generally kept in mind, is that his source is a 15th century nobleman who was serving time in prison for many crimes, one of which was rape.
Tennyson might not have had to rub it in, but that's the time where Arthur comes from, where women had two roles: Mary or Eve. If a woman wasn't a nun, then she was sinful. Sep 08, Susan rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. Just finished this one for my Victorian Literature seminar. I have always admired Tennyson's work.
This one is a bit different though. The language is not as resonant, but the imagery is spectacularly beautiful. Also, lots of lovely moments of universal truth within the story. They pop out of nowhere sometimes. The characters have a liquid, uncertain quality, bringing a whole lot of ambiguity t Just finished this one for my Victorian Literature seminar. The characters have a liquid, uncertain quality, bringing a whole lot of ambiguity to this story that has been told so many times. The reader is asked over and over to suspend disbelief, not in order to understand, but to become immersed in the imaginary and the inevitable loss of boundaries.
Over and over again we are fooled into believing the quickly dissipating fantasy of Tennyson's imagery. Why does Tennyson do this? I feel he did this in order to highlight the vain search for the truth of who we are and how others see us. We need to allow the mist of our emotions to yield and dissipate a little into order to see the truth of the reality of our lives.
Beautifully composed, showing King Arthur in an entirely new light. View all 3 comments. Jun 16, Hannah rated it it was amazing Shelves: poetry , classics , re-read , reads , favorites. Ain't no wimmens gonna put up with a control-freak like Sir Geraint. Just sayin' Dec 13, Bryn Hammond rated it really liked it Shelves: poets-playwrights.
As usual, I thought right up there the short story of Balin, who is to blame for his own tragedy 'My violences, my violences! Darker than I had expected and gutsier. I think I decided to read this at last after I saw a book on Tennyson's battle poetry. How he wrote 54 battle poems and had a genuine feel for the 'heroic ethos' of ancient fiction to which he was devoted. Fair enough, I thought.
Tried a couple of short ones: his Boadicea is as bloody as she came, and I throbbed to 'The Revenge: As usual, I thought right up there the short story of Balin, who is to blame for his own tragedy 'My violences, my violences! Tried a couple of short ones: his Boadicea is as bloody as she came, and I throbbed to 'The Revenge: a Ballad of the Fleet'.
I even felt the tribute in his Ode on Wellington.
I think he's a gorgeous poet, on the whole, although I'd make cuts. The guy can write. Arthur is his hero, and not Lancelot. This isn't the courtly love version, but the version where a self-indulgent love corrupts a heroic kingdom. Arthur's certainly a fighting king against pagans.
Give him a pagan, he can let loose without qualms and soar with the sword. The comedy can be faux-medieval -- I mean you think of those silly films in tights, but perhaps comedy wasn't his forte. I expect tragedy is, and melancholy. Again, I'll have Balin, ten pages of him, gut-wrenchingly tragic and very darkly done. But I'd say that about Malory's Balin.
Which proves to me Tennyson was awake to the old authentic stuff, though he's often condemned for Victorian. Feb 07, Rima rated it really liked it. Crying again? How many times have I read the death of King Arthur in several retellings and yet his final moments still cause my heart to cry out in despair? Guinevere and Lancelot's exposed affair, the fall of the Round Table, Mordred's betrayal Loved the way Tennyson evolved the legend but at the same time kept the 12th century atmosphere intact. Goodreads ate my first review so eventually maybe something will be fit in here.
I wish all the poems were written in this style. May 17, Clif Hostetler rated it it was ok Shelves: poetry. Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson was etched into my memory as a famouse classic from an early age thanks to the card game, "Authors. The final nudge to read it came from a book group so I had the pleasure of discussing the book with others. So what did I learn? It's the story of King Arthur in blank verse and iambic pentameter, about a hundred pages worth. It's divided into twelve different stories Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson was etched into my memory as a famouse classic from an early age thanks to the card game, "Authors.
It's divided into twelve different stories that are sparingly related to each other. I anticipated encountering the story about Arthur taking the sword out of the stone. But that story wasn't in the book; I guess that story was written another author. The following are some unanswered questions. Is the Lady of the Lake a spirit, ghost or what?
What is Merlin, a practitioner of magic, doing in a story that takes place in the Christian era? How could the story be so passionless, and at the same time have an adulterous affair between Lancelot and Guinevere? It seemed to me that Tennyson was taking himself a bit too seriously.
He was sort of saying, "Look at me. I'm writing this magnificent poem about the beginnings of English civilization.
He dedicates it to Queen Victoria in memory of the deceased Prince Albert. Can't get anymore important that that! The book is a chore to read, and I don't have the patience to truly appreciate it. I think it's a book that needs to read twice, once to read the story and a second time to appreciate the skillful word smithing and poem construction. View all 4 comments. Feb 01, Ben Loory rated it really liked it. Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and it's beautiful; tennyson just has the best ear. Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and ran, And, leaping down the ridges, lightly, plunged Among the bulrush beds, and clutch'd the sword, And strongly wheel'd and threw it.
The great brand Made lightnings in the splendour of the moon, And flashing round and round, and whirl'd in an arch, Shot like a streamer of the northern morn, Seen where the moving isles of winter shock By night, with noises of the Northern Sea. So flash'd and fell the brand Excalibur: But ere he dipt the surface, rose an arm Clothed in white samite, mystic wonderful, And caught him by the hilt, and brandish'd him Three times, and drew him under in the mere. And lightly went the other to the King. Sep 11, [Name Redacted] rated it it was amazing Shelves: fantasy , historical-fiction , poetry , classics , history.
For friend and foe were shadows in the mist, And friend slew friend not knowing whom he slew; And some had visions out of golden youth, And some beheld the faces of old ghosts Look in upon the battle; and in the mist Was many a noble deed, many a base, And chance and craft and stre "A deathwhite mist slept over sand and sea: Whereof the chill, to him who breathed it, drew Down with his blood, till all his heart was cold With formless fear; and even on Arthur fell Confusion, since he saw not whom he fought.
For friend and foe were shadows in the mist, And friend slew friend not knowing whom he slew; And some had visions out of golden youth, And some beheld the faces of old ghosts Look in upon the battle; and in the mist Was many a noble deed, many a base, And chance and craft and strength in single fights, And ever and anon with host to host Shocks, and the splintering spear, the hard mail hewn, Shield-breakings, and the clash of brands, the crash Of battleaxes on shattered helms, and shrieks After the Christ, of those who falling down Looked up for heaven, and only saw the mist; And shouts of heathen and the traitor knights, Oaths, insult, filth, and monstrous blasphemies, Sweat, writhings, anguish, labouring of the lungs In that close mist, and cryings for the light, Moans of the dying, and voices of the dead.
Nov 14, BookDigger rated it it was amazing Shelves: sophisticated-literature. I started out kinda dreading this novel because of a it's thickness and b its confusingly written self, but as I read it and cough used some helpful "guides" I have grown to long to read it. It is exciting and interesting and sophisticated.
As of now I am in Balan and Balin I like it. November 14 I have now finished this novel and I enjoyed it. My favorite stories were Gareth and Lynette, The Marriage of Geraint, Geraint and Enid, Lancelot and Elaine, Pelleas and Ettare, and mm yes, those I started out kinda dreading this novel because of a it's thickness and b its confusingly written self, but as I read it and cough used some helpful "guides" I have grown to long to read it.
The best was Lancelot and Elaine. I pictured everything crystal clear. I am glad that I took the time to truly comprehend everything and read it. It was a truly enriching novel. But truly, it's astonishing. Alfred had a knack for story-telling. His sister Cecilia recalls that friends and family would listen "open-eared and open-mouthed to legends of knights and heroes" qtd.
Before the age of fourteen, Alfred had composed a six thousand line epic in the style of Walter Scott's Marmion and at least one blank verse drama entitled The Devil and the Lady. As early as the s, he began to consider a serial Arthurian poem, and two different schemes developed: a twelve-book epic, for which he wrote a prose draft in , and a muscial masque, for which he outlined a plot in five acts before Eggers 5. Poems , published when Tennyson was only twenty-three years old, includes two Arthurian references, a stanza in The Palace of Art describing Arthur in the Vale of Avalon, and "The Lady of Shalott.
Malory's Arthur is "a great warrior, a noble leader of men, an exemplary monarch," but most importantly a very human ruler Staines 3. This poem is a careful expansion, and at times embellishment, of Malory's account of the conclusion of Arthur's life with the exception of a few references to Excalibur During this time, Tennyson envisioned a series of allegorical poems with Arthur as religious faith, Merlin as science, Excalibur as war, Mordred as sceptical understanding, and the Round Table representing liberal institutions.
He later claimed that he gave up this plan for an Arthurian epic because of hostile reviews of "Morte d'Arthur. Beyond the profound influence of King Arthur, Tennyson's childhood friend Arthur Henry Hallam to whom Tennyson dedicated In Memoriam ; also played an important role. Late in , after the shock of Hallam's death at twenty-two from a cerebral hemorrhage, Tennyson drafted the "Morte d'Arthur. As John Rosenberg notes, Hallam was "dead too young to have shaped a life in public" so he "lived posthumously as a prince of friends, a king of intellects. For Tennyson, Arthur had both personal and literary implications.
The other three poems from this early period -- " The Lady of Shalott, " " Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere, " and " Galahad " -- introduce readers to more Arthurian subject matter based in varying degrees on medieval sources and signify some themes that would become more fully realized in Idylls. Whereas the Italian version focuses on the lady's death and her reception at Camelot, Tennyson emphasizes her isolation in the tower and her decision to participate in the living world, two subjects not even mentioned in Donna di Scalotta.
In "The Lady of Shalott," Arthuriana is "introduced as a valid setting for the study of the artist and the dangers of personal isolation" Ormond Like Malory's knight, Tennyson's Galahad is pure, honest, devout and sincere, "yet his introspection, his self-analysis, his exuberant joy bordering on arrogance, his ceaseless desire for activity and movement, these qualities make him a distinctly Victorian portrait of a medieval figure and a precursor of the Galahad of the Pre-Raphaelites" In a more general sense, it is fair to say that the pre-Raphaelite fascination with Arthuriana is traceable to Tennyson's work.
Despite references to a variety of medieval sources, it is clear that Tennyson intended Idylls to reflect his contemporary times and concerns. And, indeed, Arthurian legends seem to have had particular appeal to the Victorians. Matthew Arnold suggested with a hint of irony that "the peculiar charm" of Idylls is that it does not have the "aroma of the Middle Ages" qtd.
Tennyson's historical sources are diverse -- "Anglo-Saxon social customs, bardic ideals, classical myths, Welsh myths, Victorian ethics, renaissance imagery, and many Arthurian legends" Eggers 7. Idylls is in part a hypothetical portrait of Victorian England with its high idealism, strict morality, and warring extremism. Hallam Tennyson wrote that his father hoped to combat "the cynical indifference, the intellectual selfishness, the sloth of will, the utilitarian materialism of a transition age" qtd. Arthur's idealism reflects the need for a sustaining purpose in the Victorian era as well as the sometimes foolish utopian hopes associated with the time Eggers In many ways, Arthur can be read as representative of this tension as he embodies both admirably heroic qualities as well as impossible ideals.
Guinevere offers the most thorough critique of Arthur's virtue -- "he is all fault who hath no fault at all" Hill -- suggesting that Arthur lacks humanity and that strict morality and perfectionism are flawed principles by which to live. How to read Guinevere, of course, varies according to one's sympathies. Gorlois Duke of Tintagil, first husband of Ygerne. Because so few were aware of the events that had preceded the death of Uther, it was often rumored that Gorlois was Arthur's father.
Guinevere Daughter of Leodogran, wife of Arthur. When Guinevere first appears in the poem, she is characterized by her beauty, womanly strength, and royal dignity. As her sinful love for Lancelot develops, however, she becomes selfish, cruel, and passionate. She is indicated to be the unwitting human cause of the moral ruin that eventually infects and destroys the whole court. Guinevere has no sympathy for Arthur's ideals and little consideration or affection for him as a man. She is solely concerned with her own interests and her adulterous love for Lancelot; she brazenly conceals this attitude from no one except Arthur.
Tennyson's portrayals of evil women, particularly Ettarre, provide deep insights into the character of Guinevere. It is only near the end of the poem that Guinevere is made aware of the moral consequences of her conduct. She realizes that she has always loved only Arthur, and though it is now too late to amend her past deeds, she repents for her sins, becomes a nun, and devotes her last years to prayer and good works. Kay The steward of Arthur's palace. He is narrow-minded, cynical, and intolerant, as is shown by his attitude towards Gareth.
In some medieval sources, Kay is said to be Arthur's foster-brother. Lancelot "The flower of chivalry," he is the greatest of all knights and Arthur's closest friend. Lancelot is a noble and honorable man, whose reputation is sullied only by his sinful relationship with Guinevere. He often feels acute guilt and shame about his adultery and his infidelity to Arthur, and he frequently makes strong but unsuccessful efforts to untangle himself from the influence of evil.
Because of the confusing ambivalence between his love for Guinevere and his knightly code of conduct, Lancelot often has spells of extreme depression and self-recrimination. It is because of his sin that he is not allowed to see the Grail except through a cloud, even though in all other things he is virtuous.
In Lancelot, Tennyson presents a moving portrait of a great soul tortured by a guilty conscience, struggling to free itself from sin. Limours One of the suitors of Enid, he is a coarse drunkard. While Enid's party on horseback is passing through his earldom, he makes an unsuccessful attempt to steal her from Geraint. He is one of the allied kings overcome by Arthur in his first major battle. Lynette The sister of Lyonors. She is a delightful young maiden.
At first, probably because of her youth and lack of experience, she is somewhat proud and overconcerned with social status. From her relationship with Gareth, she learns tolerance and humility, and eventually the two are married. Lyonors The sister of Lynette; she is rescued from her captors by Gareth. Mark King of Cornwall and husband of Isolt.
Mark has always hated and envied Arthur. He is a cowardly and treacherous villain who sends Vivien to undermine Arthur's influence; he murders Tristram while his victim is defenseless. Merlin A great magician and sage, he is Arthur's powerful helper and protector, as well as his friend and adviser. He is an old man and, despite his wisdom, is susceptible to Vivien's sexual teasing.
Because of this weakness, he is eliminated from Camelot, an action which makes possible the eventual downfall of the king. Merlin is the center of an extensive medieval cycle of legends and romances. Modred The oldest son of Lot, brother of Gawain and Gareth. He is a sullen, evil, and treacherous knight who continually plots against his king until he is finally able to usurp the throne during Arthur's absence in France. He is killed by Arthur in the last battle but manages to fatally wound the king in return.
Pellam One of the kings who opposed Arthur at the start of his reign. Under Arthur's influence, he has a spiritual rebirth and becomes a deeply religious man. The spear with which the side of Christ was pierced is the most sacred relic in his private chapel. Pelleas An inexperienced and naive young knight who, despite his sincere and honest intentions, is taken advantage of and driven to his downfall by the cruel machinations of Ettarre.
The great pain and confusion which Pelleas feels when he learns that all his beliefs about the honor and high ethical standards of the Round Table are false provide good examples of the ways in which Guinevere's sin infected others.
The waste of such valuable human resources as Pelleas, who compares very favorably at first with Gareth, makes more poignant the tragic downfall of Arthur's regime. Percivale The hero of many medieval legends centering around the quest for the Grail, he is the same character as the Parsifal of Wagner's opera and the Peredur of Welsh legend. When Percivale begins his quests, he is confident, for he is filled with false pride in his own achievements. Through his long and fruitless search, he ultimately comes to the conviction of his own unworthiness and the knowledge that the things men most covet are mere illusions.