Merlin on Learning
If you have not read T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, drop whatever you are reading immediately and get to it.
I rarely hear it mentioned among the classics, but TOAFK is my vote for the most underrated novel of the 20th Century. It is a delight to read. That’s the word — delight. It’s clever, satirical, political, passionate, winsome, lyrical, profound, original, and unforgettable. White takes a light-hearted tone to the rich British legend of King Arthur, but don’t be fooled. This is no mere parody. It somehow manages to be a moving portrayal of human weakness, forgiveness, and love too.
Forget that Disney based its feature cartoon The Sword in the Stone on the first part of the book. I often wonder how many skipped the whole thing under the assumption that it’s a silly children’s story. It’s not. It will make you laugh and it will rend your heart. I’m not kidding. Read it.
For now, I’ll just leave you with this quote from Merlin:
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then-to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.”
Your comments are always welcome. Use the Reply section below.