Saturday’s Softcover: I Don’t Know What’s the Matter with Britain—but What is the Matter OF Britain?

EASY AS A, B, C . . . from BB

Want an “old” book that gives you humor and laughs from smiles to guffaws, a love of learning about the natural world, and a constant thirsting to “quest” for magic?  Mix in romance, love, fear, solace, magic and “The Matter of Britain” (anything Arthurian) and you have a snapshot of  T. H. White’s The Once and Future King.  Pay particular attention to the first book (The Sword in the Stone) which has been Disneyized.  Only please take a look at the original which is so much more than Disney could put into one movie.

Read the comical joust between Pellinore and Grummore, a tour de force with this duo of bumbling, bungling King and Knight.

Turn to White’s detailed description of “natural history” among the ants, a badger’s “digs,” a flight of geese soaring over the North Sea (what human being has not dreamed of flying?).  I cannot be the only reader ever who stayed awake, amazed, at a night with the hawks in the mews,  the tactics needed to corner and kill a wild boar, the complexity of an ant hill—and immediately rush for an encyclopedia or book about this animal or that—or, more recently, logged on—to see what else geese and ants and badgers and hedgepigs do.

Then there’s magic.  This is a fantasy with some meat on its bones.  What a wondrous world, when a small boy can be turned into a fish while falling into a moat; where friends from nature gather, on banner and sward, to help the growing boy pull a sword out which is fastened so securely into a stone and anvil that no one—not even the biggest, the strongest, of knights—can accomplish this feat.  Many a reader might long for a mustard pot who can walk on thin silver legs, and dishes which wash themselves up with all the energy and noise of a lot children who have been let out of school.

Humor, nature studies, and magic still pull in today’s reader.  It’s a fun, sometimes poignant, thrilling and wonderful introduction to the older classics which illuminate the Matter of Britain.

At least try the first book: The Sword in the Stone—much as I enjoy Disney, White’s version is so much more than the filmed cartoon!

See you day-after-tomorrow for Monday’s Moans



Filed under Softcover

2 responses to “Saturday’s Softcover: I Don’t Know What’s the Matter with Britain—but What is the Matter OF Britain?

  1. Thank you for this! I read the whole “Once and Future King” both while in high school and college and absorbed it both times. Bu that was many years ago. Clearly I need to read it again.

  2. Thanks, Diann—nice to find another T.H. White fan. I can’t tell you HOW many times I have read the first of the books to my high school students . . . even my “non-reader” kids couldn’t resist it!

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