The Well at the End of the World

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I have a computer which tells me when to do everything, even when to change my bedclothes and things like that. I take part in virtual networks for people with dementia around the world. I am busy.


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I am sociable. I am cheerful. However, when I was working as a doctor, very little was actually done proactively about dementia, so I now run groups using the brain games developed by the Japanese neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima. My advice for other health professionals would be to never forget that the real person is still there, even with dementia. They need to give hope to families and relatives because it can be very difficult for them too. They need to give hope not necessarily in terms of a cure, but through the message that you can live well with dementia.

There needs to be more involvement of people with dementia and asking: what do they want? What would make a positive difference to them now rather than just possible help in the future? All book are subject to prior sale. Books will be held for 7 days for your payment to arrive - then book is restocked and for sale. Orders will be confirmed through e Orders usually ship within business days.

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More filters. Sort order. Jan 31, Connie Jasperson rated it it was amazing. First published in , and now in the public domain, The Well at World's End by William Morris has inspired countless great fantasy authors. Tolkien and C. Lewis were students at Oxford when they became devotees of Morris's work, to name just two. I first read this book in college back in the dark ages, when Ballantine released it as a two-volume set.

This fairly unknown literary treasure is now available free, as a download for your Kindle or other reading device. I got my Kindle vers First published in , and now in the public domain, The Well at World's End by William Morris has inspired countless great fantasy authors.

I got my Kindle version through the Gutenberg Project on Google--and it has reminded me of what my true roots as a reader of fantasy are. Give me the beautiful prose, the side-quests to nowhere, and wrap them in an illusion of magic, and I'm yours forever. Literally and figuratively, this story is the wellspring that gave rise to both C.

Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia", and J. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings". Many elements of the story will be familiar to those who love these and other modern narratives of fantasy and adventure, set in a mythical world. Ralph of Upmeads is the fourth and youngest son of the king of a small monarchy, and the only one forbidden of his elder brothers from going in search of his fortune. He runs away, but not before his godmother gives him a necklace with a bead on it, which unerringly directs his destiny to seek out the legendary and titular well at the end of the earth.

Along the way, he encounters friends and foes in an ever-changing landscape of rolling hills and barren wood, towering mountains and meandering rivers. Through them all pass roads down which many heroes since have sojourned; united in fellowship, or alone on solitary quests. Great and splendorous cities await, and in between, thriving towns, tiny villages, and protective farms at the edge of vast wildernesses. The further our intrepid wayfarer gets from home, the more he misses the simple pleasures of his hearth, table and bed.

Many have followed in his footsteps since, both character and reader alike.

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Its language is that of another age, but its archetypical settings and denizens are the timeless stuff of once and future legend. My Review: Morris wrote beautifully crafted poems, and the prose in this narrative is both medieval and sumptuous. He was born in and died in He was an important figure in the emergence of socialism in Britain, founding the Socialist League in , but breaking with that organization over goals and methods by the end of the decade.

Famous as a designer of textiles and wallpaper prints that made the Arts and Crafts style famous, Morris devoted much of the rest of his life to the Kelmscott Press, which he founded in Kelmscott was devoted to the publishing of limited-edition,illuminated-style print books. The Kelmscott edition of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer is considered a masterpiece of book design.

The Well at World's End is a real departure for the literature of the Victorian era, in that the morality is indicative of the free-thinking bohemian lifestyle of the famous and infamous artists of the day. William Morris was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and was a man who enjoyed an unconventional lifestyle in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, all of them celebrating musical, artistic, and literary pursuits. The king is wise and his kingdom prosperous, but nevertheless his four sons are not content. Ralph is still young, and his father wishes him to remain at his side.

He yearns to find knightly adventure and is encouraged by a lady, Dame Katharine, to seek the Well at the World's End, a magic well which will confer a near-immortality and strengthened destiny on those who drink from it. The Dame is childless, and sees Ralph as a son; she gives him a necklace of blue and green stones with a small box of gold tied on to it, telling him to let no man take it from him, as it will be his salvation. She also gives him money for his journey.

The well lies at the edge of the sea beyond a wall of mountains called "The Wall of the World" by those on the near side of them but "The Wall of Strife" by the more peaceful and egalitarian people who live on the seaward side. Ralph meets a mysterious Lady of the Dry Tree, the Lady of Abundance who has drunk from the well, and they become lovers.

Together and separately, they face many foes and dangers including brigands, slave traders, unscrupulous rulers and treacherous fellow travelers. The lady is murdered, leaving Ralph bereft. Later, Ralph meets another lady, Ursula, and with her help and the aid of the Sage of Sweveham, an ancient hermit who has also drunk of the well, Ralph eventually attains the Well, after many more adventures. Because the main character, Ralph, and a nameless lady become lovers with no thought of marriage, the novel was not well known in its time, until twenty years after Morris's death when it was discovered by free-thinking university students, to the dismay of their strait-laced parents.

The underlying story is strong, with many twists and turns. The relationship between the Ralph and the Lady of Abundance is well portrayed, as is the jealousy of her former lover, the death of her husband, and the way she is either loved or feared by everyone around her driving the plot forward. She is a woman of mystery, alternately cruel and kind, one minute the Lady of the Dry Tree, and the next, the Lady of Abundance. Ralph's story really begins after her death and the twists and turns of fate and magic are compelling.

The characters Ursula and the Sage of Sweveham are both deep and well-drawn. A quote will show you what I mean: "But Ralph gave forth a great wail of woe, and ran forward and knelt by the Lady, who lay all huddled up face down upon the grass, and he lifted her up and laid her gently on her back. The blood was flowing fast from a great wound in her breast, and he tore off a piece of his shirt to staunch it, but she without knowledge of him breathed forth her last breath ere he could touch the hurt, and he still knelt by her, staring on her as if he knew not what was toward.

The hard-core devotee of true fantasy literature will not be intimidated by the archaic prose. There is a wealth of tales within tales in this volume, all of which come together in the end. And remember, the book costs nothing! A classic example of pre-Tolkien fantasy, this book was an incredible slog, in both good and bad ways. On the one hand, incredibly loooong, complex and full of too many side stories and obscure references. On the other, incredibly familiar--I kept meeting places, characters, themes and scenarios that have been reborn many times into modern fantasy because they are so powerful, interesting, useful, or just plain fun.

I also enjoyed the archaic language, even though it made the story occasionally A classic example of pre-Tolkien fantasy, this book was an incredible slog, in both good and bad ways. I also enjoyed the archaic language, even though it made the story occasionally hard to follow. I'd have a hard time recommending the book, just because you need so many disclaimers really long, really rambling, difficult language, archaic, etc.

But overall, I'm glad I read it--a fun example of storytelling, world-building and the origins of the fantasy genre. Oct 05, Cleo rated it it was amazing Shelves: classics-minor , english-literature , medieval-literature , chunkster-overpages , classics-club-challengeyr , books-inweeks. It was an excellent adventure, full of knights, lovely ladies, mystical adventures, battles and a quest.

You can't get much better than that. I'm surprised that it's not more well-known. Oct 13, Ron rated it did not like it Shelves: gutenberg , fantasy , gave-up , ebook. Read this--tried to read this because it has been cited as influencing both C. Lewis and J. Tolkien's fantasies a generation later. If this was what they were forced to read, no wonder they wrote their own.

The story, a typical youngest son questing novel, isn't so bad but the storytelling is terrible. Morris tries to recreate medieval language, but ends with something stilted and unreadable. Don't waste your time. View all 5 comments. Nov 26, Vishal Katariya rated it really liked it Shelves: fantasy. The Well at the World's End I'm very interested in fantasy literature, and enjoy reading it very much.


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  • It was first published in and is considered to be one of the first modern fantasy works in English. I found that the book was quite misogynistic - is this something that I should have expected given the timeline of its publication? The important characters all seem to be men The Well at the World's End I'm very interested in fantasy literature, and enjoy reading it very much. The important characters all seem to be men, and the women are just there, doing what women are "supposed to do"? I felt a little irritated with this, but I don't know enough about the times in the nineteenth century, so I'll let this pass.

    The Well at the World's End by A.J. Mackinnon

    But I'll go ahead and say that this was the most major thing I felt about the book in the first one hundred and fifty pages. The writing is good! Plot development is nice, although a lot of details are encapsulated and even hidden from the reader. When reading a fantasy book, I like to be in the thick of things, knowing of the various nuances happening, but this book focuses on only person's quest for the most part, and doesn't have vivid descriptions of nice scenes.

    Again, I am assuming that this is how books were back then. So many of the usual devices that you find in fantasy literature are present in most of the books you will read. The central object in question in this book, the well at the world's end, is a well whose waters provide a sort of immortality.

    The theme of immortality has been dealt with so many times in fantasy literature; and this is quite interesting. It is one of humankind's primary goals to live forever. If you're interested in a more realistic treatment of this idea, read The Denial of Death - it's fantastic and I should re-read it soon So yes, coming back to this book, Ralph of Upmeads wishes to go a-questing and after hearing of it from many people, decides that his quest will be to drink from the well at the world's end. What I liked about this was that he chose it just out of spirit of adventure partially, at least - if I told you why exactly he does it, it would be a spoiler.

    The geographical area covered in this book is tiny.

    The Well at the World's End

    Really tiny. Major towns are only thirty miles apart and can be traveled between on horseback in a day or so. This is something I've noticed quite often in fantasy books - the distances are automatically constrained by the fact that horseback is the primary mode of transport. There are other things that are similar in other fantasy books - the presence of a sage who is wise and acts as a guide.

    Haven't we seen so many of these?

    I am not criticising the book because of these things, nor am I criticising the genre of fantasy. Some things need to stay the same so that readers are comfortable looking at other things changing. I, for one, enjoy horses and swords and knights. Attempting to make sense of immortality is a good thing; and I enjoy looking at how various authors think about it.

    This book does not have much in terms of worldbuilding. The setting seems to be in Britain near the coast, and the "world's end" where the well is at is just the sea. That's fine. I enjoyed reading the adventures, and the interplay of the characters was nice. There was a deliberate placing of people in places and Morris had good control over the plot, although it did get a little draggy towards the end. I was coming into this book slightly expecting the characters to fall flat in terms of depth and complexity. And after reading the first hundred or so pages, I felt like this was going to be the case.

    However, it wasn't to be - the characters were complex, there is romance, kingship, lordship, thralldom and more in this book. They are all treated well, and looked at from various angles. Except the romance, perhaps. Characters are quite decisive, and we don't get to see too much of any soul-searching happening. Truly, it is a happening world and it seems like someone told everyone : "get down and do your job". There isn't too much scheming or soliloquiy.

    I would have liked that. But overall, I enjoyed the book and even finished it as it ran past five hundred pages. It was instructive to read and see how William Morris inspired an entire generation, or cohort, of writers to adopt certain aspects and mannerisms in their own fantasy writing. For a trailblazer arguably , this is a very good book and holds its own. I can't believe I waited this long to read this classic fantasy novel. When I began, and got into it well, I could scarcely put it down.

    Written in an old-English style that is a pleasure to some and a hindrance to others very much a pleasure to me , The Well at the World's End is a romantic fantasy of a quest for the marriage of youth and wisdom, or, in sooth, true eternal life. Not a life that does not end, for though long-lasting indeed, yet death shall at last come as a comfort to the man or I can't believe I waited this long to read this classic fantasy novel.

    Not a life that does not end, for though long-lasting indeed, yet death shall at last come as a comfort to the man or woman who has truly been a "friend of the well. Not overly religious at all, and indeed giving decent heed to goodwill from any source, the novel is, nonetheless, a primer of sorts on how a true hero and heroine behave and treat both their betters and lessers. A quiet form of mysticism forms a basis of the quest to go beyond the "Wall of the World," pass by the tokens, and drink the drought of eternal wisdom and youth.

    Thence return to the world to use such new-found youth, vigor and wisdom to better the world in some degree. If a story such as this be in the readers heart, he or she shall hearken well to this telling, and gain both comfort and hope that at least some part of the story can be fashioned for use in our own lives. I can highly recommend this book to those who search for such in their lives.

    This apparently is a pioneering book, having influenced both Tolkien and Lewis; for that reason, it may be of interest to their fans like me to find such things as stone tables, an evil king named Gandolf sic , a great journey to the world's end, and trouble at home when the hero returns. The language, which is written in Middle English even though it was published only a hundred or so years ago , may irritate some readers, but I myself wasn't too troubled by it.

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