Idylls of the King

  • by Alfred Tennyson
  • Narrated by Charlton Griffin
  • 12 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Arthurian legend of Camelot has been told many times, but never better than by Alfred Tennyson. Employing some of the most stirring and beautiful blank verse ever written, Tennyson crafted his version of the Knights of the Round Table over the course of nearly fifty years, completing it in 1885. Despite the length of time, Tennyson managed to maintain a high level of style and continuity throughout. His gift for sublime and evocative metaphor and simile has never been matched, and in this case has produced some of the most memorable lines of narrative poetry in the history of English literature. Although Sir Thomas Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur has been called the backbone of the Arthurian legend, Tennyson's Idylls of the King is the flesh and blood. Tennyson's epic poem consists of 12 loosely connected episodes of the knights at Camelot, Arthur himself appearing as an almost Christ-like figure among them. However, though Arthur's knights represent the highest and most virtuous ideals, they sometimes fail to live up to those ideals, and their tragic flaws eventually lead to disaster. But it is this very tension between the flawed knight struggling with his own weaknesses as he confronts evil that gives Idylls of the King its compelling qualities. Some of the most dramatic scenes in the poem concern the vicissitudes of love and the daunting ethical challenges such love poses for a knight: jealousy, betrayal, and adultery. Tennyson's vision of glorious quests, Christian valor, doomed love, manly jousts, and bitter destiny have dazzled readers for well over 100 years. These endlessly inspiring, enduring lines of verse are not only entertaining, but enlightening as well. The timeless Idylls will no doubt continue to enthrall mankind for centuries to come.


What the Critics Say

"His genius was lyrical." (W.H. Auden)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Beautiful poetry

This is wonderful poetry--descriptive, evocative and moving. The language is spell-binding. I would find myself leaving the car and thinking about the day to come in the language of Arthur and his knights.

The story is also compelling. It is a tragic and doomed tale, yet it is also noble in the characters' aspirations, efforts and, perhaps most surprisingly, self-perceptions.

Narration is the key to poetry, and Griffin's reading is absolutely superb.

There is also a fine scholarly introduction to the work, which includes an Edison recording of Tennyson himself reciting "The Charge of the Light Brigade". Not to be missed.
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- Roger

listening is so much better

I have read Idylls of the King, Tennyson's masterwork, and listened to some artists sing portions of it (Lorena McKennit - Lady of Shalot). Truly, the way to get the best experience of Tennyson's sweeping blank verse is to listen to it. Tune out the world, relax, and be swept away by the elegant language. 12 hours is a long time to isolate oneself from the outside world, but there are breaks, segues from one section to the next. One can take a snack break, handle e-mail and phone calls that came in while the ringer was off and other trivial details. Then put on the earphones and depart the mundane for the glorious. I highly recommend this for someone taking a long road trip. Be careful not to get so involved that you forget to pick up the kids for soccer practice. Idylls 1 & 2 is a wonderful production of a work that is neglected in print because it is too long to teach in an average English class. The recording makes it truly accessible to eveyone. What a wonderful experience.
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- PC

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-19-2007
  • Publisher: Audio Connoisseur