Tales from the End of the World
Merlin and Company Álvaro Cunqueiro
Translation Colin Smith
Long after Arthur’s last battle, Merlin and Guinevere live on. They retire to their house in Miranda, in the province of Galicia - though retire is hardly the word. Representatives of Europe’s kings and princes, troubled by the old ills of a magical world, find their way to Merlin’s door to seek his advice.
Whether you are a genuinely playful post-modern creature or just playfully sentimental, Cunqueiro will not disappoint you.
Cunqueiro’s first novel appeared in 1955, when he had already published several poetry collections. The story of the elderly Merlin, retired to his house in Miranda in the province of Galicia, is told to us by his page Felipe de Amancia, who recalls his period in service to the magician.
The story involves the interplay of reality and the marvellous. People are summoned to Merlin’s house from all around the world to consult with him about their magical problems and troubles: the Emperor of Byzantium is in thrall to a seductress, the Lady of Aquitaine has been turned into a fawn by a daemon, Lady Theodora, the Greek mermaid, needs to dye her tail in mourning for her lost lover. Merlin is called upon to remedy their defects and repair their disasters with his secret skills, good humour and profound knowledge of the human heart. A unique literary universe arises out of the novel’s fascinating stories, powerful narrative skills and subtle ironic humour – an outstanding blend of daily life and mythical worlds.