Reactions from readers of the book
Sadly out of print
Rude Tales and Glorious
Originally published in 1983
In his own words
Trevanian, (answering written questions from Judy Quinn of Publisher's Weekly, in 1998) said about it. ...Then, after a break of four or five years, I decided to take a couple of things off the back of the stove and offer them on the marketplace. One was a novel, the other was a piece of intellectual whimsy by Nicholas Seare. ... The Seare books are for a rather rarified readership, so this book had only modest sales in Britain and America … sales that were further reduced by the mishandling of the book by its American publishers, who placed it on "folklore" shelves, rather than where it belonged, in "humor."
Some reactions from readers
Rude Tales - Not Half !!, May 15, 2003; A reader This is the only book to date that I have had to stop reading
to wipe away tears of laughter. A proper, laugh out loud riot that takes the Arthurian legends, and adds a new perspective to the myth and magic .. lusty maidens, beggars, a overbearing oaf as the Lord of the Manor, a priest who 'shrives' the sins of the Lady and her Daughter by trials of the flesh ...it's not what Errol Flynn portrayed at all. Imagine the 3 Musketeers films (the ones with Olly Reed & Michael York), and the humour is in a similar vein to these cinematic classics. If you like your olden day heroes untarnished, clean and honourable, then don't read this book. I'll never think about the Knights of the Round Table in the same way again. Very funny, very well written with some memorable phrases that I have used to good effect in the years since reading it. Not recommended reading for funerals or other such solemn occasions. Messrs Pratchett and Adams have written some excellent books (I've read the lot) but they pale when compared to this 'laugh until your face hurts' masterpiece.
Charmingly irreverent! Humour's audacity at it's finest!, January 23, 1999;A reader I finally received, from an endearing, if not downright useful cousin, a copy (hardbound , first edition in fact) of Rude Tales and Glorious -- the elusive print of an equally elusive author named Nicholas Seare. At the risk of waxing quotidian, my only regret is not having read this piece of literature sooner. This is an irreverent, audaciously humorous send-up of Arthurian history -- albeit Arthuriana's numerous manifestations and interpretations (and those are just the "ations," as Trevanian would say.) Chaucer finds a more than worthy if not altogether brilliant extension of his idea in Seare's work.
The novel, in classic Trevanian-esque jest and joust (similarly used in Incident at Twenty Mile) purports to have had a solid foundation in history -- Rude Tales and Glorious claiming to be a contemporary translation of the author's ancestor's work.
Set in a Welsh knight's castle on a wintry evening, two beggar's claiming to be Launcelot and the Lady Elaine(of 600 years past) regale the dinner party with tales of the "real" Arthurian history in exchange for the orts and leavings of the feast -- "generously" given by a tale-thirsty lord.
Completing the cast at dinner are the typical suspects of this genre; the bungling knight and his warped-sense of valor (along the liberal democratic tradition), a hypocritical lothario of a priest ( also along the same liberal democratic tradition), lusty maidens (thus given to same previously-mentioned political affinity), and the servile servants (as they should be..being of the conservative republican staff). All complemented with similarly-inclined characters in the tale (of Arthur) within a tale.
All this is told in mellifluous euphony evidenced in the English gentry's pedant in vocabulary and Twain's subtle comedy. Existent too, are Seare's/Trevanian's distaste for his perpetual foe -- the merchant, coupled with light-hearted jabs (though painful enough) at the Academic Illuminati of which the author was, for a considerable portion of his life, a part of.
The entire body of work is prefaced with the autumnal sentimentality that Seare/Trevanian allows to epiphanize quite rarely though elegantly (inspired, no doubt, by the aesthete on poetic melancholy, Kawabata Yasunari) in his other works.
The tale is charmingly irreverent, and the telling is valiant and inspired!
Hope everyone has the opportunity and the pleasure to read this fine work.
Hilarious, hilarious, hilarious, January 26, 1998; A reader Boy, do I consider myself lucky to have found a copy of "Rude Tales and Glorious". Any book that has me laughing aloud as often as this deserves to be the foundation for a religion. Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett should be so funny (and they nearly are, but that's another review).
A very funny retelling of the tales of King Arthur, July 28, 1997; A reader
Since the original story of Arthur was published by Geoffrey of Monmouth, way back when men were men and women were grateful, there have innumerable retellings of the story. But none quite like this! Arthur as a stripling lad of 15, Merlin a county fair potion seller and Guinevere as the nymphomaniac queen are merely some of the colorful characters who we are given an entirely fresh view of in this bawdy version of the well known tales. The story is narrated by two beggars claiming to be Launcelot and his lady some 600 years after the reign of Arthur--so we have it straight from the horses mouth. The tale is bawdy and full of life, with no holds barred. The men are dumb but brawny, the woman plump and lusty, and both live life to the full. It is not only what Seare says but the way he says it which makes the book so funny. Highly recommended for a witty, well written, sometimes subtle laugh fest.