Reflecting his lifelong interest in Arthurian themes, his primary sources were Malory's "Morte d'Arthur" and the Welsh "Mabinogion". For him, the "Idylls" embodied the universal and unending war between sense and soul, and Arthur the highest ideals of manhood and kingship; an attitude totally compatible with the moral outlook of his age. This edition, based on the text authorized by Tennyson himself, contains full critical apparatus.
Tennyson had a life-long interest in the legend of King Arthur and after the huge success of his poem 'Morte d'Arthur' he built on the theme with this series of twelve poems, written in two periods of intense creativity over nearly twenty years. Idylls of the King traces the story of Arthur's rule, from his first encounter with Guinevere and the quest for the Holy Grail to the adultery of his Queen with Launcelot and the King's death in a final battle that spells the ruin of his kingdom. Told with lyrical and dreamlike eloquence, Tennyson's depiction of the Round Table reflects a longing for a past age of valour and chivalry. And in his depiction of King Arthur he created a hero imbued with the values of the Victorian age - one who embodies the highest ideals of manhood and kingship.
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Alfred, Lord Tennyson was born in 1809 at Somersby, Lincolnshire. Schooled at Louth and by his father, a rector, he began to write early, and at the age of twelve he composed "an epic of 6,000 lines." In 1828 he matriculated at Cambridgebut only after the elder Tennyson had approved his recitation by heart of the odes of Horace. Poems, Chiefly Lyrical, published in 1830, revealed Tennysons swiftly maturing talent, a talent which was augmented by his friendship with Edward FitzGerald and A.H. Hallam. In 1830, the poet and Hallam volunteered in the army of a Spanish insurgent; and Poems (1833) derived largely from experience gained on the Continent. Hallams death in the same year gave rise to The Two Voices (1834)a black period in Tennysons life. After a lengthy silence he published Poems (1842), earning the admiration of Carlyle and Dickens. The year 1850 witnessed his marriage to Emily Sarah Sellwood and his appointment as poet laureate, succeeding Wordsworth. The gravity with which he took his office was reflected in many poems on state occasions. His later years produced his acknowledged masterpieces: In Memoriam (1850), Maud (1855), Ballads and Other Poems (1880), Locksley Hall Sixty Years After (1886), and scattered sections of what would eventually become his epic, Idylls of the King (1859-1885). In 1892, reading his favorite Shakespeare, Tennyson died at Aldworth and received a public funeral in Westminster Abbey.
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