‘Lancelot has brought me such great shame as to dishonour me through my wife, I shall never rest till they are caught together’
Recounting the final days of Arthur, this thirteenth-century French version of the Camelot legend, written by an unknown author, is set in a world of fading chivalric glory. It depicts the Round Table diminished in strength after the Quest for the Holy Grail, and with its integrity threatened by the weakness of Arthur’s own knights. Whispers of Queen Guinevere’s infidelity with his beloved comrade-at-arms Sir Lancelot profoundly distress the trusting King, leaving him no match for the machinations of the treacherous Sir Mordred. The human tragedy of The Death of King Arthur so impressed Malory that he built his own Arthurian legend on this view of the court – a view that profoundly influenced the English conception of the ‘great’ King.
James Cable’s translation brilliantly captures all the narrative urgency and spare immediacy of style. In his introduction, he examines characterization, narrative style, authorship and the work’s place among the different versions of the Arthur myth.