The Well at the World's End
Infobox Book |
name = The Well at the World's End
image_caption = Covers of "The Well at the World's End", vols. 1-2,
Ballantine Books, 1970
language = English
publisher = The Kelmscott Press
release_date = 1896
media_type = Print (Hardback)
isbn = NA
"The Well at the World's End" is a fantasy novel by the British artist, poet, and author
William Morris. It was first published in 1896 and has been reprinted a number of times since, most notably in two parts as the twentieth and twenty-first volumes of the " Ballantine Adult Fantasy series" in August and September 1970. It is also available in one volume along with a similar Morris tale, " The Wood Beyond the World", in "On the Lines of Morris' Romances: Two Books that Inspired J. R. R. Tolkien."
Using language with elements of the medieval tales which were his models, Morris tells the story of Ralph of Upmeads, the fourth and youngest son of a minor king, who sets out, contrary to his parents' wishes, to find knightly adventure and 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.
Ralph meets a mysterious lady who has drunk from the well, and they become lovers. However, she is killed, and with the help of Ursula, another maiden whom he meets upon the way, Ralph eventually attains the Well.
Although the novel is relatively obscure by today's standards it has had a significant influence on many notable fantasy authors.
C. S. Lewisand J. R. R. Tolkienboth seem to have found inspiration in "The Well at the World's End": ancient tables of stone, a "King Peter", a quick, white horse named "Silverfax", and a character named "Gandalf" are only a few, to say nothing of Ralph's journey home as denouement, anticipating the Hobbits' return and battle for the Shire. Fact|date=June 2007
In an October 1914 letter to his future wife, Tolkien told her, "Amongst other work I am trying to turn one of the short stories [of the Finnish
Kalevala] ... into a short story somewhat on the lines of Morris's romances with chunks of poetry in between." Fact|date=June 2007
copyrightfor this story has expired in the United States, and thus now resides in the public domain. The text is available via Project Gutenberg.
*gutenberg|no=169|name=The Well at the World's End
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