The History of the Kings of Britain

The History of the Kings of Britain


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Completed in 1136, this classic chronicle traces the story of the realm from its supposed foundation by Brutus to the coming of the Saxons some two thousand years later. Vividly portraying legendary and semi-legendary figures such as Lear, Cymbeline, Merlin the magician, and the most famous of all British heroes, King Arthur, it is as much myth as it is history, and its veracity was questioned by other medieval writers. But Geoffrey of Monmouth’s powerful evocation of illustrious men and deeds captured the imagination of subsequent generations, and his influence can be traced through the works of Malory, Shakespeare, Dryden, and Tennyson.
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140441703
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/28/1977
Series: Classics Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 155,572
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Geoffrey of Monmouth was a Welsh cleric and British historiographer who lived during the twelfth century. He is best known for his chronicle The History of the Kings of Britain, which, though now considered historically unreliable, was widely popular in its day and is cited as an important work of national myth.

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 Contents

Translated 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
10. Acknowledgments

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

Time Chart

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The History of the Kings of Britain 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
beelzebubba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
RogueBelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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. ;)
jcovington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very subtle and clever political attacks on his theologial historian contemporaries.
Elizabeth.Michele on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Assigned in College, very interesting if not a little difficult to get through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you, Digipress, for these wonderful, affordable editions of classics.
ltesta More than 1 year ago
When I downloaded a sample of this book, I got a sample of Tom Jones instead.
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