Le Morte d'Arthur : reworking Prose by Thomas Malory

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      Le Morte d'Arthur is reworking middle English prose by Thomas Molory. The prose of the 15th century is scarce and of slight value. Latin attract the writers and the bold movement of Wyclif and his adherents was checked. Prose was unformed when Caxton, the first English printer began his work in 1474. He printed in 1478 the Le Morte d'Arthur of Sir Thomas Malory which is one of the prose versions of old romances.

Prose was unformed when Caxton, the first English printer began his work in 1474. He printed in 1478 the Le Morte d'Arthur of Sir Thomas Malory which is one of the prose versions of old romances.
Le Morte d'Arthur

      Malory represents himself as translating a French book. In truth he seems to have had recourse to many books, so that his Le Morte d'Arthur is a compilation. Though there are separate adventures of Sir Balin, Sir Pelleas, Sir Palomides, the history of Tristram and Isoud, yet we can easily discern the lines of a dominant story-that of Arthur. Malory tells of Arthur's triumphant reign, the unfaithfulness of his wife Guenever who takes Launcelot for her lover. Launcelot's punishment for the failure of his quest of the holy grail, the finding of which is reserved for Sir Galahad. The book ends religiously, for Guenever becomes a nun and Launcelot a hermit.

      The distinction of Malory's work lies in the fact that the book is written with a uniform dignity and fervour inspite of the difference of sources. It expresses the very essence of romance and chivalry. It is a skilful blend of dialogue and narrative and is full of colour and life, which the style has a transparent clarity. He may be fittingly described. as the first English prose stylist.

      In subject-matter, the book belongs to the Medievalism, but Malory himself with his desire to preserve the literary monuments of the past belongs to the Renaissance. He has made a position of lasting gratitude in English literary history for preserving the legends and poetry of Britain at a time when scholars were chiefly busy 'with the classics of Greece and Rome. It was to Malory rather than Layamon or to the early French writers that Shakespeare and his contemporaries turned for their material and in recent times, he has supplied Tennyson and Matthew Arnold, Swinburne and Morris with the inspiration for the Idylls of the King and the Death of Tristram.

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