Lewis Thorpe’s translation from the Latin brings us an accurate and enthralling version of Geoffrey’s remarkable narrative. His introduction discusses in depth the aims of the author and his possible sources, and describes the impact of this work on British literature.
About the Author
Lewis Thorpe was professor of French at Nottingham University from 1958 to 1977 and president of the British Branch of the International Arthurian Society. He published many books and articles on Arthur, both on the French and English traditions. He died in 1977.
Table of ContentsTranslated with an Introduction by Lewis Thorpe
1. Geoffrey's Purpose
2. Who was Geoffrey of Monmouth?
3. Geoffrey's Sources
4. The Work Itself
5. Geoffrey the Artist
6. Geoffrey of Monmouth down the Centuries
7. Editions of the Historia
8. Earlier Translations
9. This Translation
Notes to the Introduction
Short Bibliography of Works Used in the Introduction and in the Notes
Map of Britain
Part One: Brutus Occupies the Island of Albion
Part Two: Before the Romans Came
Part Three: The Coming of the Romans
Part Four: The House of Constantine
Part Five: The Prophecies of Merlin
Part Six: The House of Constantine (Continued)
Part Seven: Arthur of Britain
Part Eight: The Saxon Domination
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Have you ever heard of the Reduced Shakespeare Company? They were a comedy troupe who specialized in abbreviated versions of Shakespeare's plays. Supposedly, they hold the record for the quickest performance of Hamlet, clocking in at 43 seconds. Impressive, huh? No less impressive is Geoffrey of Monmouth. In The History of the Kings of Britain, he blazes through about 2000 years in less than 300 pages (actually closer to 200 when you take out the introduction.)Centuries fly by like seconds, and before you know it, it's 524 AD, and King Arthur has just kicked the bucket. Hey, wait a minute, it wasn't that many pages ago when Julius Caesar was invading Britain!You know who else I thought of while reading this? My grandpa. When I was a little kid, I would sit in rapt attention as he told fascinating, exciting stories from his youth. And I believed every word. I would go home and relate them to my mom, and she would just shake her head. He was a great story teller, but most of it was pure fantasy. Much like ol¿ Geoffrey. When it was written (1136) and up until about the 17th century, it was taken as a bona fide work of history. In fact, most of it is just made up, with a smattering of historical figures thrown in to give it some weight. You would think the story about the two hollow stones at the bottom of a pool which contained two dragons might have tipped them off.He also claims that his book was actually the translation he did of a very ancient book, I suppose to add even more credulity to it. But nope, another whopper. You know, the more I think about it, the more Geoffrey reminds me of a cousin of mine about whom someone once asked, ¿How do you know when Steve is telling a lie? His lips are moving.¿But anyways, aside from suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder, and being a compulsive liar Geoffrey could spin a good yarn. Lots of good old bloody battle scenes: heads being lopped off, bodies cut clean in half, ¿ Plus, lots of sex. Well, okay, maybe not lots of it. But what there is, is pretty racy. In this version of King Arthur, Guinevere is getting it on with Mordred while Arthur is off doing battle somewhere. And as you know, Mordred was Arthur's nephew (in this version just his nephew, in Malory's his son/nephew/whatever). Still pretty kinky. So, when all is said and done, a very entertaining read. Just don't expect it to help you pass that English history test.
A really fascinating look at pre-historical, Roman, and Dark Age Britain. The stories are generally little-known, but contribute a great deal to modern literature. Recommended for lit geeks. ;)
Very subtle and clever political attacks on his theologial historian contemporaries.
Assigned in College, very interesting if not a little difficult to get through.
Thank you, Digipress, for these wonderful, affordable editions of classics.
When I downloaded a sample of this book, I got a sample of Tom Jones instead.