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Reviews of Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, the (1976)

Review by spiphany (2005-07-09)
Although it lacks the spark and excitement of other versions of the Arthur legends (notably T.H. White's), this is still a good, solid, and very readable book. Steinbeck follows Malory's "Morte d'Arthur" fairly closely, while at the same time updating the language and tightening the unwieldy plot structure a bit. It drags slightly at times, which is perhaps inevitable, but overall Steinbeck manages to keep the story going smoothly. For readers looking for a straightforward, accessible version of the legends, this is a good place to start.

At least as interesting as the novel itself were the notes at the end--Steinbeck's letters to his literary agent and to his friend Chase Horton, who prepared the unfinished manuscript for publication. These letters provided what I found to be a fascinating insight into Steinbeck's mind and the writing process, as the project grows and alters as he works on it. What he had first intended to be simply a translation takes on a life of its own.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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