Friday, August 18, 2017

The Well At The World’s End by William Morris


Image from the book. Public domain.
http://www.metmuseum … ection/search/354288


The Road Unto Love


The Sundering of the Ways

Long ago there was a little land, over which ruled a regulus or
kinglet, who was called King Peter, though his kingdom was but little.
He had four sons whose names were Blaise, Hugh, Gregory and Ralph: of
these Ralph was the youngest, whereas he was but of twenty winters and
one; and Blaise was the oldest and had seen thirty winters.

Now it came to this at last, that to these young men the kingdom of
their father seemed strait; and they longed to see the ways of other
men, and to strive for life. For though they were king’s sons, they
had but little world’s wealth; save and except good meat and drink, and
enough or too much thereof; house-room of the best; friends to be merry
with, and maidens to kiss, and these also as good as might be; freedom
withal to come and go as they would; the heavens above them, the earth
to bear them up, and the meadows and acres, the woods and fair streams,
and the little hills of Upmeads, for that was the name of their country
and the kingdom of King Peter.

So having nought but this little they longed for much; and that the
more because, king’s sons as they were, they had but scant dominion
save over their horses and dogs: for the men of that country were
stubborn and sturdy vavassors, and might not away with masterful
doings, but were like to pay back a blow with a blow, and a foul word
with a buffet. So that, all things considered, it was little wonder if
King Peter’s sons found themselves straitened in their little land:
wherein was no great merchant city; no mighty castle, or noble abbey of
monks: nought but fair little halls of yeomen, with here and there a
franklin’s court or a shield-knight’s manor-house; with many a goodly
church, and whiles a house of good canons, who knew not the road to
Rome, nor how to find the door of the Chancellor’s house.

Read the whole book at Project Gutenberg or download in your preferred format.

H.G. Wells compared this to Mallory. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein took inspiration from this tale.

Read this review, The Well at the World’s End - A Review of Morris’ Classic Masterpiece.

William Morris (according to Lin Carter) is the founder of modern fantasy literature and The Well at the World’s End is his masterpiece. And after reading this book and the little that I have about the author I find it odd that his works are not more widely read or discussed in the fantasy literature community. I searched the internet and various bulletin boards and found a few isolated discussions or worthy mentions, but nothing like what this novel or its author deserve. So here I am, giving credit where it’s due.

I read it. It’s heart wrenching.