The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel humorously re-creates the legend of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table, from the king’s conception in Tintagel Castle to his final voyage to the Isle of Avalon after his fatal battle against Mordred. Although he draws his material from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (1485), supplemented by incidents from other medieval romances, Thomas Berger transforms the story through his exuberantly comic vision.

The novel opens with the account of how Uther Pendragon, king of Britain, falls in love with the fair Ygraine, duchess of Cornwall. With Merlin’s aid, he assumes the appearance of her husband and conceives Arthur with her in Tintagel Castle. Reared in secret by humble foster parents, Arthur learns his parentage only when he draws the Sword from the Stone and thereby wins the throne of Britain. Arthur defeats early challenges to his authority from rebel Britons, an alliance of Angles and Saxons, and the Irish king, Ryons, who wants Arthur’s beard to adorn his mantle. Arthur then acquires another sword, Excalibur, from the Lady of the Lake, begets Mordred with a lady who turns out to be his own half-sister Margawse, then marries Guinevere and acquires the Round Table.

The knights who sit at this table form a fellowship devoted to bringing about the triumph of virtue. After describing Merlin’s willing confinement by the Lady of the Lake, the middle part of the novel...

(The entire section is 442 words.)

Arthur Rex Bibliography

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Barr, Marleen. “Men in Feminist Science Fiction: Marge Piercy, Thomas Berger, and the End of Masculinity.” In Science Fiction Roots and Branches: Contemporary Critical Approaches, edited by Rhys Garnett and R. J. Ellis. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

Chapman, Edgar L. “’Seeing’ Invisibility: Or, Invisibility as Metaphor in Thomas Berger’s Being Invisible.” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 4 (1992): 65-93.

Landon, Brooks. Thomas Berger. Boston: Twayne, 1989.

Landon, Brooks. “Thomas Berger: Dedicated to the Novel.” World & I 18 (October, 2003): 208-209.

Landon, Brooks. “Thomas Berger’s Arthur Rex.” In King Arthur Through the Ages, edited by Valerie M. Lagorio and Mildred Leake Day. New York: Garland, 1990.

Sinowitz, Michael Leigh. “The Western as Postmodern Satiric History: Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man.” Clio 28 (Winter, 1999): 129-148.

Stypes, Aaron. “Thomas Berger and Sheer Incongruity.” South Dakota Review 32 (Winter, 1994): 34-43.

Wallace, Jon. “A Murderous Clarity: A Reading of Thomas Berger’s Killing Time.” Philological Quarterly 68 (Winter, 1989): 101-114.

Zimmerman, Brett. “The Linguistic Key to Crabb’s Veracity: Berger’s Little Big Man Revisited.” Western American Literature 38 (Fall, 2003): 270-288.