Still One Of The Greatest Fantasies

Reading & Writing

Having loved the Phillip Pullman trilogy, I was reminded of T H White’s wonderful ‘The Once And Future King’ when I saw this cartoon (I’d credit it, but can’t now remember where it came from).

The odd thing that struck me about White’s book when I first read it, though, is that it suddenly stops several pages short of the crucial concluding battle. Recently I found the missing pages in another volume, ‘The Book Of Merlin’ – does anybody know why this happened, or why they’ve never incorporated the missing pages?

4 comments on “Still One Of The Greatest Fantasies”

  1. Nathaniel Goss says:

    I think the cartoon probably is from xkcd.com – his style is quite distinctive.

  2. Chas says:

    In 1941 White sent Candle in the Wind and Book of Merlin to the publisher with changes to the 3 books that had already been published. So Once and Future King (TOAFK) was always intended as a 5 book project. Because the war was on the publisher baulked at the size of what would be TOAFK. So TOAFK did not get published until 1958 at which point White had not even proof read the Book of Merlin and several of the scenes had been used out of context in Sword in the Stone. So it got left out. So when Book of Merlin was finally published in 1977 the publisher used the 1958 edition as a guide in order to sort out spelling and punctuation irregularities.

  3. Simon Taylor says:

    Wikipedia seems to have an answer (of sorts): “Originally submitted for publication in 1941, due to wartime paper shortages, White was unable to convince his publisher to include The Book of Merlyn as part of the collected edition of The Once and Future King (which was first published in its entirety in 1958). Perhaps this is also due to this book’s philosophical and plot-light nature.
    He nevertheless managed to salvage parts of this rejected text. While revising The Sword in the Stone for the collected edition, he adapted scenes from The Book of Merlyn. The unfortunate consequence is that parts of The Book of Merlyn appear to be rehashing things White has already covered earlier in the collected version of The Once and Future King.”

  4. Helen Martin says:

    I have always loved TOAFK and was really disappointed at Disney’s version.I should have realized that Disney always does a pretty-pretty version. The wizard duel was not fun, it was deadly serious and the visit with the ants was a hard slam at fascist style government. Works against communist government, too. There’s nothing wrong with scary in a beautiful fantasy.

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