Thursday, January 29, 2009

Book Review

A few weeks ago, the local library had one of its semi-annual book sales, where I picked up no less than a dozen fabulous books, including an adorable 1960s copy of TH White's The Sword in the Stone. How could I resist this sweet cover?

Sadly, due to the dry, fragile condition, the cover snapped off the first time I opened the book! But I'm planning to frame it or pin it up on the wall, so all is well.

I've been wanting to read White's Arthurian series for a while (the four books plus one previously unpublished manuscript are currently published in two volumes, The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlyn), so I was excited to start.

I was definitely not disappointed. White's writing is of the dry humored, light-hearted sort like that of two of my other favorites, Evelyn Waugh and CS Lewis. In fact, I could definitely see my younger self being obsessed with White's Arthur in the same way I adored Lewis's Pevensies (and Prince Caspian!).

Even though it might be thought of as a kids' read, The Sword in the Stone is written in a way that's delightful for adults as well. Full of allusions and anachronistic remarks, it reads a little like a puzzle and challenges the reader to accept an odd fitting-together of various myths, true and made-up English history, and 20th century life. Full of magic, whimsy, and daring adventure, The Sword in the Stone contains charming, complicated characters who display a full range of emotions. The one-dimensional characters seen in the Disney movie version are literally caricatures of White's originals.

I can't wait to read the other three books in The Once and Future King, as well as the more somber Book of Merlyn.

In the next few days, look for a (probably more serious) review of my current read, James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, first published in 1956.

No comments:

Post a Comment