Happenstance Gems (was Re: [DWJ] Book recommendations)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Nov 17 18:14:41 EST 2006

>On Nov 17, 2006, at 6:44 AM, Minnow wrote:
>> Another one that would be there "if only" is the first version of T.H.
>> White's *The Sword in the Stone*, but then he went on and wrote *The
>> Once
>> and Future King* and *The Book of Merlyn* and the first fine careless
>> rapture got a bit over-egged.  And Professor Branestawm might be there
>> if
>> there weren't so *much* of him.  Likewise Uncle the Elephant.

Otter asked:

>I have a copy of "The Sword in the Stone."  I have read, but do not own,
>"The Witch in the Wood."

I had a copy of TWitW which I gave to someone who Really Really Wanted It.
I have been told since that it is rare because it came out in a small
edition and then it wasn't re-issued because he re-wrote it as *The Queen
of Air and Darkness*, which is nastier and less gently mocking.

>Were there any others that got subsumed into "The Once and
>Future King?"

I *think* that *The Ill-Made Knight* appeared on its own, because it is
listed (along with TWitW) as "also by this author" at the front of the
Fontana paperback or TSitS (but not in the front of the Fontana paperback
of TOaFK) but I could be wrong, and Drabble's *Oxford Companion to English
Literature* is no help whatever, since it mentions none of *The Witch in
the Wood*, *The Queen of Air and Darkniess*, and *the Ill-Made Knight*.
(White was too late to get into the Harvey OCEL that I have.)  Drabble
deigns to name *Mistress Masham's Repose* and *The Goshawk*, but not *The
Master* nor any of what are lumped together as "several adult novels", not
even *England Have My Bones*.

TSitS (first time round Collins 1938) was re-written at least once and I
think possibly twice, and appeared twice as a single book as well as being
in the huge paperback *Once and Future King* that falls apart.  He did
things to it like rationalising Pellinore's speech so that he said "I"
instead of "Ay", and changing the Magical Duel; sometimes the changes are
downright clumsy, because the seams show, particularly in cases like what
Kay did when they were out with Robin 'ood and what he boasted about
afterwards, and who was and wasn't in Madam Mim's dungeon or Galapas's
dungeon (depending).  The edition that came out to go with the film
(Fontana, 1963?) is not quite the same as the original in some events being
added or lost, and the version in the hardback Collins TOaFK of 1958 has a
lot of minor changes, mostly things like explaining in the first couple of
pages that Eton didn't really exist and they were drinking methaglin not
port, and other similar bits scattered all through.

I think the ants got added at some point after WWII, though whether they
were meant to be communism or fascism I'm not sure.  Both, perhaps.


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