Paperback: 364 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reissue edition (April 1, 1993)
From Wikipedia.org, the free encyclopedia:
The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976) is John Steinbeck's retelling of the Arthurian legend, based on the Winchester Manuscript text of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. He began his adaptation in November 1956. Steinbeck had long been a lover of the Arthur tales. The introduction to his translation contains an anecdote about him reading them as a young boy. His enthusiasm for Arthur and his affinity for Anglo-Saxon language are apparent in the work. The book was left unfinished at his death, and ends ironically with the death of chivalry in Arthur's purest knight, Sir Lancelot of the Lake.
Steinbeck took a "living approach" to the retelling of Malory's work; he followed the original structure of Malory, and indeed even kept the original chapter titles, but the text of the book was written in a modern way, and while the general plots are the same, Steinbeck added a more heavily psychological structure and background, modernising the original novel, and changing the language, not to make it easier for modern readers, but to find the tone and structure with which Malory approached readers of his time, and find the corresponding tone and structure of today:
"Malory wrote the stories for and to his time. Any man hearing him knew every word and every reference. There was nothing obscure, he wrote the clear and common speech of his time and country. But that has changed - the words and references are no longer common property, for a new language has come into being. Malory did not write the stories. He simply wrote them for his time and his time understood them... And with that, almost by enchantment the words began to flow." -Steinbeck, in a letter.
# Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Random House (April 11, 2006)
From award-winning writer David Mitchell comes a sinewy, meditative novel of boyhood on the cusp of adulthood and the old on the cusp of the new.
Black Swan tracks a single year in what is, for thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the thirteen chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. A world of Kissingeresque realpolitik enacted in boys’ games on a frozen lake; of “nightcreeping” through the summer backyards of strangers; of the tabloid-fueled thrills of the Falklands War and its human toll; of the cruel, luscious Dawn Madden and her power-hungry boyfriend, Ross Wilcox; of a certain Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, an elderly bohemian emigré who is both more and less than she appears; of Jason’s search to replace his dead grandfather’s irreplaceable smashed watch before the crime is discovered; of first cigarettes, first kisses, first Duran Duran Lps, and first deaths; of Margaret Thatcher’s recession; of Gypsies camping in the woods and the hysteria they inspire; and, even closer to home, of a slow-motion divorce in four seasons.
Pointed, funny, profound, left-field, elegiac, and painted with the stuff of life, Black Swan Green is David Mitchell’s subtlest and most effective achievement to date.