Darton’s sensible prose was a strange but welcome introduction to the literary genre of chivalric romance. All of the stories were new to me (except “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”), extracted in their essence from the rambling excesses of medieval French and English poetry. Usually, I despise prose adaptations of verse, especially verse that has already been translated to English, but in this case, I think the stories survive the ordeal and I probably wouldn’t have encountered them at all in their original form.
The author seems to have no qualifications whatsoever on the subject of the book, but also no scholarly pretensions. While the amateur nature of the whole affair bothers me, it is arguably true that similarly inexpert retellings of these stories is how they have survived and flourished for hundreds of years.
The numerous pen and ink illustrations by Arthur G. Walker (better known for his sculptures) are delightful.
[Why I read it: I’ve loved Arthurian tales since I was a child and this caught my eye in the thrift store because of the shiny gold cover design.]