THE SARACEN'S HEAD by Osbert Lancaster


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A slick, sophisticated story of the Middle Ages, deliberately debunking the age of chivalry. This is one of those books that I, personally, dislike for the junior market. The Crusades and the Age of Chivalry are so intimately a part of youth's growing up, that the cynicism, the irony, are lost on them -- and yet they haven't the authentic background to give it due balance. Osbert Lancaster writes so glibly -- and for an adult who has tongue in cheek, so satirically, that those below the teens would find him almost incomprehensible, while their immediate elders would find him boring. This is the story of a rather sissy young knight who after a series of amusing misadventures, makes good. Double plays on words- on names (example- Sir Willibald, El Balbooni, etc.), puns, allusions that require adult background and presuppose a knowledge of the period of Richard Coeur de Lion, of life in moated castles, of jousting and the fine art of knighthood. Many readers will recall 1066 and All That in their response to this book. In any case, before giving it to teenagers, be sure of their grounding in the period. I'd rather have Howard Pyle give them their traditions in this period that should be part of childhood lore.

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 1949
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin