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Bernard Cornwell
The Siren's Call: A once and future epic
The Siren's Call: A once and future epic

Behind the action of Simon Armitage's marvelous translation of the Middle English epic "The Death of King Arthur" (W.W. Norton: 306 pp., $26.95), there's an unmistakable mood of bitterness. It has nothing to do with Arthur's fate -- yes, there's plenty of bitter sorrow after Arthur's last battle against Mordred, but that's not what I'm talking about. There's another, different bitterness here that belongs to the anonymous maker of this poem, which appeared long before Thomas Malory ever celebrated the legendary warrior-king in his prose "Le Morte D'Arthur." You who are listeners and love to learn of the heroes of history and...

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