When the wizard Merlyn comes to tutor Sir Ector’s sons, Kay and the Wart, studying becomes much more exciting.
After all, who wouldn’t enjoy being turned into a fish, or a badger, or a snake? But the Wart is destined for greater things and Merlyn’s magical teachings are only the beginning. The Sword in the Stone is the extraordinary story of a boy who goes on to become King Arthur.
‘Should we then conclude that there are two types of fairy stories, one for children and one for grown-ups? A difficult question, but T. H. White may have suggested an answer in The Sword in the Stone. The Wart, who will grow up to be King Arthur,
did not know what Merlin was talking about, but he liked him to talk. He did not like the grown-ups who talked down to him like a baby, but the ones who just went on talking in their usual way, leaving him to leap along in their wake, jumping at meanings, guessing, clutching at new words, and chuckling at complicated jokes as they suddenly dawned. He had the glee of the porpoise then, pouring and leaping through strange seas.’
Alastair Glegg, Slightly Foxed Issue 76
Twice Upon a Time
Starting a story with ‘Once upon a time’ does not guarantee a happy ending. In their classic collection of folk tales, the rather aptly named Brothers Grimm made sure there was a moral to every...Read more
T. H. White (1906–64) was clearly a strange fellow, which should be evident to anyone who has read his books. The best known, of course, is his Arthurian epic, The Once and Future King (progenitor...Read more
Extremely Small People
I suppose Tom Thumb in the fairy story is usually the first extremely small live person we come across. Early on we’re charmed by the miniature world of dolls’ houses, but the people in them are...Read more
On the Shoulders of Giants
We would race past a Saxon church, its western hindquarters sunk into the hillside, a kindly beast emerging from its lair. We would teeter in slow motion beside the dark timbers of a medieval bridge....Read more