Hollywood star Ethan Hawke’s third novel is a ‘parable for all ages’Archive
THOMAS Malory gave us Le Morte d’Arthur in the 15th century; TH White gave us The Once and Future King in the 20th. Now the actor and writer Ethan Hawke is due to provide his own take on chivalry in a forthcoming novel, Rules for a Knight, which his publisher is calling “a parable for all ages [with] the appeal of an Arthurian legend and the economy of Aesop”.
Due for publication in November, Hawke’s third novel will be set in 1483, as “Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke, a Cornish knight, is about to ride into battle”, said publisher Hutchinson, which has just acquired it for UK publication. Fearing he might die in battle, on the eve of his departure, the knight writes a letter to his children, “consisting of twenty virtues that provide instruction on how to live a noble life; the lessons, large and small, that he would like to impart to them”.
“Why am I alive? Where was I before I was born? What will happen to me when I die? Whatever well our lives are drawn from, it is deep, wild, mysterious, and unknowable ...” writes Hawke. Hutchinson called the novel “many things: a code of ethics, an intimate record of triumphs, failures and aspirations, and a testament to a father’s love”.
Publishing director Jocasta Hamilton said the book was “executed with wit and elegance”, describing it as “a parable for all ages which has the potential to become a classic”. “With the appeal of an Arthurian legend and the economy of Aesop, it draws on eastern and western philosophy and literature. I think we all need to be reminded, as well as taught, how to live.”
In the US, where the book was acquired earlier this summer, Rules for a Knight has been pitched as a title for young adults. Hawke told the Wall Street Journal that he wrote it for his own four children because “it becomes fairly difficult to talk about ethics with kids without sounding like you’re preaching” and “I started wanting to talk to my kids about what I believe in and it became easier to do it in a fictional way.”
Hawke, whose films include Dead Poets Society and Boyhood, has been Oscar-nominated four times. He has also written two previous novels, The Hottest State and Ash Wednesday. Rules for a Knight will be illustrated by his wife, Ryan Hawke.
—By arrangement with the Guardian
Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2015
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