Reference > Cambridge History > The End of the Middle Ages > English Prose in the Fifteenth Century. II > Style of the Morte d’Arthur
  Malory’s Morte d’Arthur Sir John Bourchier, Lord Berners  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

XIV. English Prose in the Fifteenth Century. II.

§ 4. Style of the Morte d’Arthur.


The prose in which is unfolded this scarcely Christianised fairy tale—for the Grail was to Arthurian legend something as the Crusades to feudalism—is, apparently, of a very simple, almost childlike, type, with its incessant “so—and—then,” but, unlike mere simplicity, it never becomes tedious. There is a kind of cadence, at times almost musical, which bears the narrative on with a gradual swell and fall proportioned to the importance of the episodes, while brevity, especially at the close of a long incident, sometimes approaches to epigram. But the style fits the subject so perfectly as never to claim attention for itself. A transparent clarity is of its essence. Too straightforward to be archaic, idiomatic with a suavity denied to Caxton, Malory, who reaches one hand to Chaucer and one to Spenser, escaped the stamp of a particular epoch and bequeathed a prose epic to literature.   12

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Malory’s Morte d’Arthur Sir John Bourchier, Lord Berners  
 
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