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Dispatch: 23 January 2017
Discovering King Arthur/Beare, Beryl/Paper/0572023677/S056-C1
In this book, Beryl Beare faithfully retells some of the most intriguing Arthurian tales. Based on the most authoritative and dramatic sources, here are the familiar tales of Arthur, Merlin, and The Knights of the Round Table, together with others which, although less well known, are equally fascinating - the story of Clhwch and Olwen for instance. You will find no more enjoyable introduction to King Arthur, nor, for that matter, a more accessible digest of the works of the major contributors to the Arthurian legend.
In her selection of stories for this discovery, Beryl Beare has focused on dramatic impact as produced by the most important and best known of British sources: Geoffrey of Monmouth, Sir Thomas Malory, The Mabinogion and Tennyson. The very best of the Arthurian cycle, in fact.
But there her links with historic writing ends. This is a straightforward, narrative treatment which presents the legend in the form of a theatrical drama. It is beautifully structured into Acts and Scenes, which mount these brilliant gems of literature in a unique setting which displays them to shining effect.
The author has also included the kind of information she would have liked to find in a single volume when she herself began to discover the legends of King Arthur: comment on the characters; the geographical and political situation in fifth and sixth-century Britain; an overview of the Arthurian story; some thoughts about the authors and their sources; and finally, the influence of Arthur on our culture today. A sort of view from the wings.
Geoffrey Ashe, probably Britain's leading Arthurian authority, writes of this book: "Beryl Beare's work stands up most convincingly...and I am honoured to make my contribution."