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Álvaro Cunqueiro: Merlin e familia (Merlin and Company)

Cunqueiro tells a beautiful story of post-Arthurian Merlin in this relatively short novel. Merlin has now retired and goes to live in Miranda in the Esmelle wood in Galicia. He is accompanied by Felipe, his page boy and the narrator (looking back many years later). Felipe recounts the stories of the succession of visitors who come to Merlin, seeking his help, often in matters of the heart. Time seems to be irrelevant, as we jump easily from Oedipus to Napoleon and all manner of real and legendary characters in-between, including of course, Cunqueiro’s own creations. The story of Master Flute, Lord Sweet and Lady Tear (he uses the English names in the original) is an example of his little stories, telling how Lady Tear smashes into pieces when she falls and how Merlin mends her. As everything is seen from the eyes of the young page, we get a different perspective, particularly as he is not privy to all of Merlin’s secrets and is often naïve. But Cunqueiro tells a delightful set of stories, which cannot fail to enchant his readers.

Publishing history

First published in Galician 1955 by Editorial Galaxia
First published in English 1996 by Dent, England and Tuttle, USA
Translated by Colin Smith