Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Story of Sir Launcelot and His Companions by Howard Pyle

American author/illustrator Howard Pyle had a talent for telling stories about chivalrous knights on grand adventures.  He used a writing style similar to the "King James version," which immerses the reader in to the medieval period.  His stories were written with young people in mind, and he included all of his own intricately drawn illustrations, which he took very seriously.

In The Story of Sir Launcelot, Pyle introduces this valiant knight as the Chevalier of the Cart, which was a rather humorous situation, and then explains how Launcelot rescues Queen Guinevere - minus the intimate details that Chretien de Troyes includes in his Arthurian Romances.

Later, Launcelot saves the town of Corbin from the Giant Worm and wins the heart of Lady Elaine, though he must return to the court of King Arthur and honor Queen Guinevere.   It is my opinion that the queen literally drove him to madness; he jumps from a window and flees King Arthur's court. After many trials, he returns to Lady Elaine.  

However, Lady Elaine convinces Launcelot to return, and together they make their way back to the court of King Arthur.  But rotten Queen Guinevere plots to harm Lady Elaine, ensnaring Launcelot and causing Lady Elaine to flee in despair. 

Howard Pyle takes his illustrations very seriously.

The story concludes with "The Nativity of Galahad" and Merlin's prophecy of the Holy Grail.  Lady Elaine makes one final appearance with an important, dramatic message about her brand new baby son (uh-hum!), and Sir Launcelot is broken hearted over the ramifications of his sin.

However, at the very end, there is repentance and the promise of new life, and Pyle pledges to complete his Arthurian tales with the story of the Quest for the Holy Grail in his final book of the series,  The Story of the Grail and the Passing of Arthur, which I will read later this year.

I am a fan of Howard Pyle ever since I read The Story of King Arthur and His Knights; and I have also read The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, my favorite, and Otto of the Silver Hand.  I also have his Book of Pirates, but I have yet to read that.

The Story of Sir Launcelot counts toward:


Jean said...

Great review! I should read some Pyle later this year. I've done a lot of the early stuff now and am still going with that, and then I want to see how things ended up in more modern times...

Ruth said...

Thanks! When I first read Pyle, I thought he was ancient. (So much I did not know).

Hamlette (Rachel) said...

I read Pyle's Robin Hood as a kid, and have been eagerly buying up second-hand copies of his books lately, to share with my kids when they're a bit older. And to read myself :-D Haven't found this one yet, though. Sounds good!

Ruth said...

You may want to look at Otto of the Silver Hand to read to the kids, too, although you should research it first b/c it involves some violence. I don't know how old your kids are, but I remember while reading it a few years ago to mine, I thought, "Hmmm. That's kind of heavy stuff." I believe the young boy has his hand cut off.