Friday, August 18, 2017

The Wood Beyond The World by William Morris


Frontispiece from the book. Public Domain.
https://en.wikipedia … ood_Beyond_the_World


Awhile ago there was a young man dwelling in a great and goodly city by
the sea which had to name Langton on Holm. He was but of five and
twenty winters, a fair-faced man, yellow-haired, tall and strong; rather
wiser than foolisher than young men are mostly wont; a valiant youth, and
a kind; not of many words but courteous of speech; no roisterer, nought
masterful, but peaceable and knowing how to forbear: in a fray a perilous
foe, and a trusty war-fellow. His father, with whom he was dwelling
when this tale begins, was a great merchant, richer than a baron of the
land, a head-man of the greatest of the Lineages of Langton, and a
captain of the Porte; he was of the Lineage of the Goldings, therefore
was he called Bartholomew Golden, and his son Golden Walter.

Now ye may well deem that such a youngling as this was looked upon by all
as a lucky man without a lack; but there was this flaw in his lot,
whereas he had fallen into the toils of love of a woman exceeding fair,
and had taken her to wife, she nought unwilling as it seemed. But when
they had been wedded some six months he found by manifest tokens, that
his fairness was not so much to her but that she must seek to the
foulness of one worser than he in all ways; wherefore his rest departed
from him, whereas he hated her for her untruth and her hatred of him; yet
would the sound of her voice, as she came and went in the house, make his
heart beat; and the sight of her stirred desire within him, so that he
longed for her to be sweet and kind with him, and deemed that, might it
be so, he should forget all the evil gone by. But it was not so; for
ever when she saw him, her face changed, and her hatred of him became
manifest, and howsoever she were sweet with others, with him she was hard
and sour.

So this went on a while till the chambers of his father’s house, yea the
very streets of the city, became loathsome to him; and yet he called to
mind that the world was wide and he but a young man. So on a day as he
sat with his father alone, he spake to him and said: “Father, I was on
the quays even now, and I looked on the ships that were nigh boun, and
thy sign I saw on a tall ship that seemed to me nighest boun. Will it
be long ere she sail?”

“Nay,” said his father, “that ship, which hight the Katherine, will they
warp out of the haven in two days’ time. But why askest thou of her?”

“The shortest word is best, father,” said Walter, “and this it is, that I
would depart in the said ship and see other lands.”

“Yea and whither, son?” said the merchant.

“Whither she goeth,” said Walter, “for I am ill at ease at home, as thou
wottest, father.”

The merchant held his peace awhile, and looked hard on his son, for there
was strong love between them; but at last he said: “Well, son, maybe it
were best for thee; but maybe also we shall not meet again.”

“Yet if we do meet, father, then shalt thou see a new man in me.”

Read the book here or download in your preferred format.

From wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia … ood_Beyond_the_World

Morris considered his fantasies a revival of the medieval tradition of chivalrous romances. In consequence, they tend to have sprawling plots comprising strung-together adventures. His use of archaic language is a challenge to some readers.

When the novel was reissued in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series, James Blish noted that Morris’s style was a successful recapturing of the style of Sir Thomas Malory, “all the way down to the marginal glosses and the nonstop compound sentences hitched together with scores of semicolons. He also recaptured much of the poetry; and if the reader will make the small effort necessary to accommodate himself to the rhythm of the style, he will find both it and the story rewarding.”