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The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights: 07/02/16

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck is the author's attempt to modernize the tales of King Arthur. Steinbeck's favorite book as a child was Malory's Le Mort d'Arthur and he was inspired to do his own take on the famous tales.

Steinbeck wrote his version in England while he was working directly with Malory's manuscripts. And frankly, that's the problem. There's too much Malory and not enough Steinbeck. Steinbeck could write grandiose, epic retellings of famous stories, such as his reworking of the Cain and Abel story in East of Eden. But the Steinbeck touch isn't here.

Instead of Steinbeck blazing in and making Arthur a water baron or something in the central valley, his story is set in Camelot with modern English wrapped up in a clunky old fashioned grammar. Old grammar and new words can be melded together to create something new (Shakespeare for instance was a master of this) but I think Steinbeck was too much of a fan of Malory to make Arthur his own story.

Three stars

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