July 15, 2011


Sir Osis of Thuliver

It's amazing how much cleaner, clearer, and defter Mallory is than either Steinbeck or Ackroyd.


I was just going to say something to that effect. And I think having to briefly puzzle out the words makes it better too. Doing the work yourself, I guess. Translating this seems like kind of a thankless task. How could anyone improve on "I wyll wel"?


This inspired me to dig out the version I read when I was young. I'm not sure how a book published in 1940 came into my possession in the mid '70s, but I know I read it at least once (and then read The Once and Future King countless times more).

Anyway, it's an abridgment of Malory by Charles Richard Sanders and Charles E. Ward. They write in their foreward: "The modern reader demands a readable text. That requirement, we believe, we have met, not only by mechanical innovations but by retaining the important materials, strongly braced and sharply outlined."

Here's their take, which seems to mostly just update the spelling and cut a bit:

"'I will well,' said Arthur, and rode fast after the sword, and when he came home, the lady and all were out to see the jousting. Then was Arthur wroth, and said to himself, 'I will ride to the churchyard, and take the sword with me that sticketh in the stone, for my brother Sir Kay shall not be without a sword this day.' So when he came to the churchyard, Arthur alit and so he handled the sword by the handles, and lightly and fiercely pulled it out of the stone, and took his horse and rode his way until he came to his brother Sir Kay, and delivered him the sword."


Very interesting, Michael, especially to consider the modern reader of the 1940s versus the modern reader of today, who would almost surely stumble on wroth. (Though I do love the word!)


It's interesting that everyone's version except the one in the comment above includes the detail that Arthur tied his horse to the stile. Just in case you wondered why his horse didn't wander off with all that tugging?

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