The "Eight-Book" Malory Product

Eugene Vinaver's 1947 Edition of The Works of Sir Thomas Malory

(Division of Caxton's edition based on the eight explicits found in the Winchester MS.)

I.  King Arthur--Arthur's birth, Uther Pendragon's death, Merlin's help to legitimize Arthur's reign in wars with several rival kings, his marriage to Gwenyver, and the testing by quest-ordeal of Balyn, Torre and Pellinor, Gawayne, Ywain, and Marhault.  (Predictions are made concerning the coming of the Grail, Lancelot and Trystram, and the destruction of the Round Table.)

II. Roman War--Arthur, aided by Gawayne and Lancelot, defeats the Roman Emperor and takes the continental empire as his rightful possession.

III.  Lancelot--undergoing serial tests of his judgment and prowess, Lancelot emerges as the Round Table's preeminent knight.

IV.  Gareth--like Lancelot, Gareth (Gawayne's youngest brother and Malory's invention) undergoes serial testing of his judgment and prowess, knighted by Lancelot and welcomed to the Round Table as Lancelot's greatest friend, though he comes to avoid his brother, Gawayne, because of his murderous vengeance.

V.  Trystram--Trystram's birth, love of Isode, and relations with Arthur's court, including several major tournaments, the birth of Galahad, and the murder of an important knight (Lamorak) by Gawayne and his brothers.

VI.  Sankgreall--the coming of the Holy Grail and Galahad's arrival at court to take its quest; the Round Table's temporary dissolution as the knights follow the quest that none but Galahad is destined to complete, serial testing of Gawayne, Bors (Lancelot's brother), and Lancelot, and Galahad's assumption into heaven at the end of the quest.

VII.  Lancelot and Gwenyver--Lancelot's love of Gwenyver, serial combats to rescue and protect her, and involvement with Elayne le Blanke, the maid of Astolat (Tennyson's "Fair Maid of Shallot").

VIII.  The "Morte de Arthur"--Lancelot and Gwenyver's betrayal by Gawayne's brothers; Lancelot's saving of Gwenyver from the fire and accidental killing of the unarmed Gareth; Gawayne's swearing mortal vengeance against Lancelot and the Round Table's "departyng" between the forces of Lancelot and Arthur; the seige of Lancelot's lands and his return of the Queen; Lancelots' wounding of Gawayne in a duel; Mordred's betrayal of Arthur and the army's return to challenge the traitor; the battle of Salisbury Plain where Mordred is killed and Arthur wounded; the resignation and deaths of Gwenyver and Lancelot.