Little is definitively known of the life and schooling of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but his extraordinary literary works have survived centuries as a testament to his legacy. Around the time of Geoffrey's life, the written Arthurian legends were mostly fragmentary and often incoherent. He therefore took on the task of creating the first full ...Read MoreLittle is definitively known of the life and schooling of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but his extraordinary literary works have survived centuries as a testament to his legacy. Around the time of Geoffrey's life, the written Arthurian legends were mostly fragmentary and often incoherent. He therefore took on the task of creating the first full biographies of King Arthur and Merlin, which from that point on remained the quintessential source for all Arthurian legend tales. His finest work, "The History of the Kings of Britain," traces the reign of nearly a hundred British kings, beginning with the nation's mythical founder, Brutus. It is an imaginative and meticulously written masterpiece. Modeled after the AEnied, one half of the work is devoted towards the first ten centuries of British history. The second half, comprising about two centuries, focuses primarily around King Arthur, the rise and fall of the Round Table, and the declining fortunes of Arthur's heirsRead Less
Fine in Slipcase, Fine. jacket. Book. 8vo-over 7¾-9¾" tall. Pp: [1-9], 10-260. Eleven leaves of colour lithographs taken from 13th-15th Century manuscripts. Decorated endpapers. Bibliography. Bound in full dark red Berkeley cloth with a contemporary illustration on paper laid down to the top board. Titled in gilt to the spine. Top edge dyed red to match the binding. Light brown slipcase. This could well be called a third printing of the first Folio Society edition as there have only been a few changes to the original. Pages , , and  have been reset, the placement of the illustrations changed, and the endpapers have been changed. Geoffrey of Monmouth's history of the the Kings of Britain for nineteen hundred years, from Brutus, great-grandson of of the Trojan Aeneas to his last British King, Cadwallader, who abandoned Britain to the Saxons in the seventh century. The book was written in Latin and was finished c. 1136. The text for this edition was taken from the Penguin edition.
No one would argue that Monmouth is the most fun version of the Arthur myth, but as the father of the genre, and the subject of still-intense debates about whether or not he had 'an inordinate love of lying', it is fascinating to discover the Virgilian links to Troy and well-crafted (if totally bogus) weaving of Britain's history to that of ancient Greece. Arthur is not the chivalric hero, but a battle-weary mortal king with a wife whose few mentions resemble little of the Guinivere of myth. But Monmouth loved his material and presents it with zest and enthusiasm, and the differences with the more familiar stuff is just as interesting as the similarities. If you have a true interest in the origins of the Arthur mythos, you gotta have some Monmouth!
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