Le Morte d'Arthur Review

Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur

Le Morte d'Arthur was composed from pre-existing legends and translated French manuscripts. His major innovation was arranging the traditional tales in a semi-coherent order. However, the pace of the tales can seem ludicrous to modern readers. Major developments occur almost every page, with a staccato rhythm that makes the tales seem blunt and humorous.

Characters die off-page

Le Morte d'Arthur is a medieval romance that was first published in Middle English. It was heavily influenced by Geoffrey's pseudo-chronicle Historia Regum Britanniae. The print version is abridged, compared to the manuscript. Vinaver theorized that Malory had originally written the part as a stand-alone work, without having knowledge of French romances. This part of the story contains a time lapse during Arthur's war with King Claudas in France.

The richness of the text

The text is incredibly rich, encompassing both historical detail and fictional characters. While the main plot focuses on the legendary King Arthur, the individual histories of the famous knights of the Round Table are also included. Lancelot, Tristram, and Lamorak are just a few of the famous characters.


Le Morte d'Arthur is a medieval romance novel set during the reign of King Uther Pendragon. The king is at war with the duke of Cornwall, but during a truce invites the duke to his court. While there, the two men develop an intense passion for one another, and Uther prepares for war. Luckily, the duke of Cornwall has two castles that are well-prepared to withstand a siege.

The Watson Library

The main research library of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Watson Library, houses hundreds of thousands of books. Curators often consult the library for reference works before putting together exhibitions. Le Morte d'Arthur is one of the books in Watson's collection. Watson's copy of the 1892 edition was designed and decorated by the famous British artist Aubrey Beardsley. The copy is featured in an exhibition titled The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy: British Art and Design.


The Morality of Le Morte d'Arthur is a complex story that explores the meaning and soul of love, betrayal, and justice. Malory's work offers an important window into the concept of morality in Arthurian times. The main character, Sir Pelleas, is a knight with noble principles. He fights to protect the innocent and punish evil. In the process, he becomes an icon of knighthood.

The origin of Le Morte d'Arthur

Le Morte d'Arthur was written around 1485, during which time other forms of the Arthurian legend were gaining in popularity. Malory took the Arthurian legends and reworked them to create his own work. He may have also envisioned the text as a way to appeal to English readers who would rival the French legends.

Efficacy of translation

Le Morte d'Arthur is one of the most famous works of Arthurian storytelling. It is a thousand page epic that blends dozens of sources to create a unique, enchanting vision of Camelot and the Round Table. As such, it is an indispensable document in the study of the English language.

Originally composed in Middle English

The Morte d'Arthur draws heavily on the pseudo-chronicle Historia Regum Britanniae by Geoffrey. However, the print version of the poem is cut by more than half compared to Malory's original manuscript, and it also includes a time lapse that includes Arthur's war with King Claudas of France.

Intended for English audiences

When Malory published Le Morte d'Arthur in 1485, other forms of the Arthurian legend had already begun to gain popularity. Although it is possible that the French and English versions of the story were already popular, Malory's work was primarily intended for English audiences.

Inspiration for great leaders

In Le Morte d'Arthur, King Arthur sets the standard for a great leader. Arthur shows many of the qualities that make a good leader, including treating followers as equals and protecting them. He even genuinely cares for them. Le Morte d'Arthur is one of the most influential works of literature in English.

The theme of the quest

The theme of this epic story is the quest. The knights in Le Morte d'Arthur seek adventure, glory, and noble deeds. In addition, they undertake journeys for personal fulfillment. Sometimes, the quests are not for specific goals, such as saving the kingdom, but for a greater cause. In Le Morte d'Arthur, the hero must also do acts of valor for the sake of his lady.

The story is also a great inspiration for future leaders. Le Morte d'Arthur is a classic example of a medieval epic. It is a retelling of the story of Arthur, and it has been adapted and expanded many times. The protagonist, Tristan, is the focus of Le Morte d'Arthur, the longest of the eight books. Despite its length and lack of coherence, this narrative serves as a foreshadowing of the rest of the work, and interacts with the other parts of the text.

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