The Book of Merlyn

The Book of Merlyn - T.H. White [These notes were made in 1981:]The fifth and last book of The Once and Future King, according to the PR. But without that trumpeting, one might be forgiven for thinking that this book is not part of the same overall plan as the others, though it is indisputably by the same author and "about" the same characters. In fact, what it is "about" is polemics - a political treatise, if you will, with some passages which have the same kind of imaginative vision that the earlier books have, but mostly just straight preaching. It is not difficult reading, and few readers - of my generation, anyway - would be unsympathetic to the passionately anti-war sentiments which are its core, but it is not really a conclusion to the Once and Future King. King Arthur has been roped into a new cause. There are, of course, political sentiment and anachronism - delightful anachronism - in the first four books. But in this one, it is Arthur who is the anachronism, and I must admit a certain feeling of disappointment, pleasing and interesting though the book was.