The Death of King Arthur

Simon Armitage

The Death of King Arthur

The Alliterative Morte Arthure - the title given to a four-thousand line poem written sometime around 1400 - was part of a medieval Arthurian revival which produced such masterpieces as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Sir Thomas Malory's prose Morte D'Arthur. The Death of King Arthur deals in the cut-and-thrust of warfare and politics: the ever-topical matter of Britain's relationship with continental Europe, and of its military interests overseas. 3.9 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
The Death of King Arthur

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre Poetry
Format Hardcover
Pages 192
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication January 2012
ISBN 978-0571249473
Publisher Faber and Faber
 

The Alliterative Morte Arthure - the title given to a four-thousand line poem written sometime around 1400 - was part of a medieval Arthurian revival which produced such masterpieces as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Sir Thomas Malory's prose Morte D'Arthur. The Death of King Arthur deals in the cut-and-thrust of warfare and politics: the ever-topical matter of Britain's relationship with continental Europe, and of its military interests overseas.

Read Simon Armitage's article and an extract from the poem in The Times ALLhhere.

Reviews

The Daily Express

Martin Newell

He has unrolled it like a once-venerated old tapestry discovered in a loft. he has beaten the dust off it, darned a few holes then laid it out for the reader to enjoy again in all its glory. The Death of King arthur should, if there is any justice in the world, go straight on to the school curriculum, as literature, as history or as both.

15/01/2012

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The Observer

Kate Kellaway

He has a miraculous ability to make the past fresh, moving and urgent, not allowing legend to create distance. And while you do need to be in friskily bellicose spirits to read an almost non-stop account of battles (spears aplenty, with livers, guts and other body parts glistening on their points), this is an extraordinary work: fighting verse.

19/02/2012

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The Independent

Bill Greenwell

This is Simon Armitage's second shot at an alliterative epic. His Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2007) was highly entertaining: perhaps more entertaining than this version of Morte Arthure, but only because Gawain contains more startling images. As a feat of re-telling, The Death of King Arthur is more remarkable and sustained. One single decision makes it: consistency of tense.

27/01/2012

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The Guardian

Sean O'Brien

To some degree Armitage's latest work, a translation of the anonymous early 15th-century epic Alliterative Morte Arthure (not to be confused with Malory's prose Le Morte d'Arthur), works in parallel to Crow, though its concern, as befits a more secular poet such as Armitage, is with realpolitik rather than psychology. Not for the first time, Armitage seems to be fruitfully shadowing the predecessor whose work first inspired him ... Imaginatively, The Death of King Arthur isn't a patch on Gawain, but it certainly rips and roars and ravishes in handling one idea of the Matter of Britain.

23/12/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Jeremy Noel-Tod

The death of King Arthur is a subject that was later treated by Sir Thomas Malory in narrative prose and Alfred, Lord Tennyson in blank verse. Both transformed their knowledge of the source material through new forms. It seems a shame that a contemporary poet has not taken the same licence to produce a more selective version in his own voice rather than this self-declared “smooth read”.

16/01/2012

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