Literature / The Book of Merlyn

The Book of Merlyn is the posthumously published fifth book in T. H. White's retelling of Arthurian Legend. Written in the 1940s, it remained unpublished due to wartime paper shortage and was not included in the 1958 composite edition of The Once and Future King. The manuscript was finally published in 1977.

Chronologically, it is set within the fourth book: On the eve of the Final Battle between King Arthur and Mordred, King Arthur is once more taken by Merlyn to contemplate various things.

This work provides examples of:

  • Ant War: The Author envisioned this here, but Executive Meddling put it in The Sword in the Stone.
  • Author Tract: On human nature, whether or not it is good by nature, the origins of war and plenty more.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Arthur's death — to the very last, fighting to stem the tide of war and bring peace.
  • Final Battle: The evening before it.
  • Hope Spot: Arthur's tranquil experiences as a goose, and his incipient romance with Lyo-lok. Merlyn's timing for yanking him back to humanity is almost cruel.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: A main point put forward by many of the animals. They even go so far to suggest Homo Sapiens had a more fitting name as Homo Ferox.