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Mary Renault (1905–1983)

Författare till Kungen måste dö

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Om författaren

Foto taget av: Mary Renault. (Photo from Wikipedia)


Verk av Mary Renault

Kungen måste dö (1958) 2,630 exemplar
Alexander min härskare (1972) 2,281 exemplar
Fire from Heaven (1969) 2,163 exemplar
The Bull from the Sea (1962) — Författare — 1,664 exemplar
The Last of the Wine (1956) 1,637 exemplar
Apollons mask : [roman] (1966) 1,352 exemplar
Funeral Games (1981) 1,100 exemplar
The Charioteer (1959) 1,087 exemplar
The Praise Singer (1978) — Författare — 845 exemplar
The Nature of Alexander (1975) 747 exemplar
The Friendly Young Ladies (1943) 353 exemplar
The Alexander Trilogy (1984) 297 exemplar
Purposes of Love (1939) 124 exemplar
Return to Night (1947) 106 exemplar

Associerade verk

Giftbältet (1913) — Inledning, vissa utgåvor444 exemplar
The Best of Both Worlds: An Anthology of Stories for All Ages (1968) — Bidragsgivare — 25 exemplar
The Undying Past — Bidragsgivare — 1 exemplar


Allmänna fakta

Vedertaget namn
Renault, Mary
Namn enligt folkbokföringen
Challans, Eileen Mary
Andra namn
Challans, Mary
London, England, UK
Cape Town, South Africa
Durban, South Africa
University of Oxford (St. Hugh's College | English | BA | 1928)
University of Oxford (Radcliffe Infirmary)
radio writer
Black Sash Movement
Priser och utmärkelser
MGM Prize (Return to Night, 1948)
Gordon Wise (Curtis Brown)
Kort biografi
Mary Renault received a degree in English from Oxford University in 1928. In 1933 she began training as a nurse at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. During her training, she met Julie Mullard, a fellow nurse, with whom she established a lifelong romantic relationship.

Renault worked as a nurse while beginning a writing career, publishing her first novel, Purposes of Love, in 1939. Her historical novels, set in ancient Greece, were popular throughout the English-speaking world. In 1948, after her novel Return to Night won a prize worth $150,000, Renault and Mullard emigrated to South Africa, where they lived together for the rest of their lives. They were critical of apartheid and participated in the Black Sash movement in the 1950s.



British Author Challenge February 2022: Mary Renault & Timothy Mo i 75 Books Challenge for 2022 (augusti 2022)
Mary Renault's Alexander Trilogy i Folio Society Devotees (december 2013)
Mary Renault i Book talk (juli 2013)


I first read this book as a child (who was fascinated by mythology especially the Greek myths) and approached it with some trepidation this time around, remembering very little about it, apart from the fact that I'd been upset by the horse sacrifice near the start of the novel. However, I needn't have worried: for a book first published in 1958 it still holds up very well.

The plot isn't a mystery for anyone who knows something about the mythological story of Theseus, but the interpretation that Renault puts on it is unique. She tells the story from his own viewpoint, looking back over his life, as if it is historical fiction, drawing on all the - then recent - discoveries about Crete such as the Linear B language. For the main meat of the book is formed by Theseus' experiences in Crete.

The story begins in his childhood when he learns how to be a king from his grandfather, but always smarts under the stigma of not knowing his father's identity. He is the sole child of the king's daughter and sole surviving child - and comes to believe the story put around that the god Poseidon is his father. This seems confirmed when he starts to experience the kind of 'aura' that animals and birds receive as a warning of earthquakes - to the ancient peoples a sign of Poseidon's anger. But he remains small and light, outgrown by his contemporaries, unlike in the myth, because - more realistically - Renault takes the fact that Theseus later excels at bull leaping to indicate he must have been agile and shorter than average.

Then comes the revelation about his real father and the circumstances around his conception - plus the need to shift a massive stone and take the sword concealed underneath it to his father to claim his birthright. And so the tale gathers momentum. En route, Theseus learns skills and gains experiences that will later serve him well, plus changing for ever the nature of the goddess worship in an intervening town where the old practice of sacrificing the king annually has survived. And his experiences on Crete will change and inform his maturing character for the rest of his life.

I liked the way Renault came up with realistic explanations for all the oddities which myths take for granted, and made Theseus likeable despite the - to our age outrageous - treatment of women, something in which he was following societal norms. The goddess worship had been subsumed into the worship of male gods such as Zeus and Poseidon by this time, apart from in pockets where it survived less transformed, and was regarded with suspicion by men in general. Yet Theseus does gain an awareness while on Crete that the women who have to face the bulls - despite their being labelled always as 'girls' - are just as brave and capable as the men, and that the flighty behaviour of so many women is due to their conforming to what is expected of them in a male dominated society.

The one point which I didn't think Renault quite managed to make convincing was Theseus reason for not painting his sail on his return journey - unlike the myth, he doesn't just forget. But that is such a minor point that the book still deserves a 5-star rating.
… (mer)
kitsune_reader | 54 andra recensioner | Nov 23, 2023 |
Book 2 of this retelling and interpretation of the Theseus myth carries on immediately after his return from Crete and the suicide of his father, who thought he had been killed. Theseus has to get to grips with the various problems inherent on taking over as king, some of which have been caused by his father's reluctance to deal with a powerful sadistic local chieftain (the mythological Procrustes). Theseus soon proves to the doubting barons that he is a strong and decisive ruler and he goes on to lead a successful war against his father's brothers and their kin who had previously attacked Athens on a number of occasions.

On the personal side things do not run so smoothly. He is aware that he should marry and produce legitimate sons to succeed him, yet he is reluctant to commit himself. Eventually he settles on Phaedra, whom he met when she was a child while he was a bulldancer on Crete. The younger sister of Ariadne, whom he left on Nexos when it became clear she had the 'bad blood' that full-out worship of the Goddess represents - she had taken part in the Maened frenzy in which the local King was sacrificed - Phaedra is now a sedate young Cretan matron. He puts off the marriage even though he has arranged that she stay on Crete, because she would lose her royal status there if she left. Instead, driven by a restless spirit, he goes roving on ships with his friend Prince Pirithoos and indulges in piracy.

On one of his trips he meets and eventually defeats in a fight Hippolyta, King of the Moon Maidens of Artemis, for whom he forms a deep and instant devotion. Despite her upbringing she reciprocates his love, and eventually they have a son, Hippolytus But he also has to marry Phaedra. He has a son by her also, Acamus, a typically Cretan boy, rather than the tall Helene young man that Hippolytus grows into. He intends Hippolytus, despite his illegitimacy, to inherit his rule of Athens and the other countries now under Athens' rule, apart from Crete, which could go to Acamus who is rather easy going and not much of a warrior. But things don't turn out according to plan.

This book is rather more bitty and disjointed than volume one. Certain characters are sketched, such as Hippolyta, their son, his wife and other son, and his friend Pirrithoos. Theseus contends with various difficulties such as the hostility to Hippolyta who continues to dress in "men's clothing" and ride and hunt - he has a beautiful sword made for her too. The prevailing attitudes to women mean that the senior nobles and the serving women both view her with suspicion - the men because her reverence of the goddess Artemis reminds them of Medea who was the close companion of his father and whom they suspected of wanting to bring back the Mother worship complete with king-sacrifice, and the women because Theseus has elevated her to his soul companion and common law wife and no longer sleeps around, plus he favours her son above theirs. As foreshadowed, from as far back as a couple of mentions in passing in volume 1, things end in tragedy as usually happens in Greek mythology.

As before, Renault has a different slant on the mythical elements. For example, the Kentaurs as they are called here are not half horse and half man but a type of wild man - possibly Neanderthals - who have a close bond with horses and live a basic outdoor existence. As in book 1, various other myths are worked in, including mentions of Jason, and a cameo appearance by Achilles. Because there are quite long periods when nothing basically happens in the myth, these are summarised briefly and, as they consist mostly of Theseus going on pirate expeditions, that is no bad thing.

The attitudes to women continue to be problematic but this follows the cultural norms of the time. To some extent, Theseus overcomes these in his relationship with Hippolyta but he continues to treat other women, including his wife, as people whose opinions don't matter - to his undoing and that of his elder son. His likeable characteristic is his championing of underdogs and belief that a king is a protector of his people and stands between them and the god - mainly Poseidon, but others - with the ultimate role, if required, of self-sacrifice.

Because of the more episodic character of this book which perhaps suffered from such a large stretch of Theseus life being packed into one novel I didn't enjoy this as much as book 1. I also found it not altogether credible that Hippolyta so quickly falls for Theseus and renounces her old life. For those reasons, I rate it at 3 stars overall.
… (mer)
kitsune_reader | 27 andra recensioner | Nov 23, 2023 |
A historical novel that dramatizes the struggle for control of the Macedonian Empire after the death of Alexander the Great. Created by a stunning string of military victories and alliances, Alexander's empire stretched from Greece to Egypt to the border of India. The book is well-plotted as it covers the major battles, murderous demises, and power plays in the dozen or so years after Alexander's death. However, the writing is sloppy, sometimes to the point of confusion, the style is overly formal, and the book is full of typos. Despite that, it's an exciting story that demonstrates just how extraordinary Alexander was to both have created his empire and then managed to hold it together.
This is the final book in Mary Renault's Alexander trilogy, following "Fire From Heaven" and "The Persian Boy," neither of which I've read.
… (mer)
RobertOK | 14 andra recensioner | Nov 17, 2023 |



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Tom Holland Introduction
Roger May Narrator
Kris Dyer Narrator
Mimi Bark Cover designer
Charlotte Mendelson Introduction
Bettany Hughes Introduction
Carin Goldberg Cover designer
León Mirlas Translator
John Rush Cover artist
Antonio DESMONTS Translator
N. O. Scarpi Translator
Paul Chemla Translator
Geoff Grandfield Illustrator
Daniel Mendelsohn Introduction
Karl Laebo Illustrator
Karl Leabo Cover designer
Max Schindler Cover artist
James Hill Cover artist
Sarah Dunant Introduction
Simon Russell Beale Introduction
Nelson Runger Narrator
C. Walter Hodges Illustrator
Parker Fulton Cover artist


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