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Author Topic: What's Everyone Reading?  (Read 143000 times)

Carl

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #90 on: April 25, 2014, 06:38:05 PM »
---I've just bought Paul Kingsnorth's new book called The Wake, the one we have been discussing (somehwere!) in Old Modern English.   At present, it's only on Kindle but is cheap at £3.99.   If you haven't got a Kindle, you'll have to wait a while as it's not in print yet.
I bought it only a couple of minutes ago, so you'll also have to wait to hear what I think of it.   Actually, as it is in this combined language, you may have to wait quite a while for me to decipher it!

What did you think of it Jayson? I personally enjoyed it, although the ending was not the one I desired! I found it open to interpretation on what unfolds which made a nice change from the linear approach of Cornwell. 'The Wake' is one historical novel which may be even more worthwhile the second time around.

Jayson

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #91 on: April 27, 2014, 01:34:39 AM »
---I'm still in the middle of the book at the moment, Carl, so please don't spoil the ending for me!   As to what I think of it, I believe it's one of the best books I've ever read.   I feel I am there, in the holt, in 1066, and I can hear the Socman speaking, hear his accent (btw. what's a 'Socman' as I couldn't find it in Sweet's).  The characters are real, the hams are real, I can see them and Angland feels very real indeed.   The Socman isn't a very pleasant character but all the more real for that and I'm not expecting a very happy ending!
I would urge the Gesithas to try this book but I will add that in order to make sense of it you really do need a basic knowledge of OE plus a couple of dictionaries.   I don't think it would make much sense to anyone without these which is a shame.   I suppose you could say that it's in 'cod' English, partly OE, partly Modern English plus some words which are half and half.
But I'm enjoying it so much that I'm rationing myself to a few pages a day!
Wessex Woman

Ceawlin

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #92 on: May 26, 2014, 03:53:44 PM »
Kirsten A. Seaver The Frozen Echo: Greenland and the Exploration of North America ca 1000 to 1500. Interesting but Seaver offers no firm conclusions on what led to the abandonment of the Norse colony.

The Norwegian tithe collector Ivar Bardarson reported finding the Western Settlement abandoned around 1350 but with livestock roaming freely. Seaver hypothesises that the Norse settlers had headed for the hills when they saw his ships coming; the archaeology suggests that the settlement lingered on until the end of the century. Still the timing of Bardarson's visit make me suspect plague. The Black Death did not reach Iceland until 1402, but if the English or others had already been exploiting the resources of the Nordseta hunting grounds the Western Settlement could have been infected directly.

As for the Eastern Settlement, Seaver argues that it is no coincidence that abandonment occurs around the time of the beginning of European exploration in North America. The discovery of a direct route to the North American fishing banks in the 1480s would certainly have increased the Norse settlers isolation, but Seaver goes further and suggests the hardy Greenlanders were recruited to man shore factories. I can see that Bristolian or Azorean merchants might underestimate the practical difficulties of overwintering in Labrador, but one might have thought that the Greendlanders with their long experience of logging in 'Markland' might have been less sanguine about the prospects of such a venture.

Anyway a thorough overview of a fascinating subject. The blurb says that Seaver was inspired by her researches to write a novel on the Norse settlement of Vinland. I am tempted, but I have already read Margaret Elphinstone's The Sea Road and Tom Holt's Meadowland, both excellent if very different.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2014, 12:56:32 PM by Ceawlin »

Jayson

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #93 on: June 03, 2014, 08:37:40 PM »
I should say that the abandonment of Greenland was due to the return of a mini iceage which swept south over northern Europe in the 14th century or so.   If the inhabitants couldn't grow crops and if the fish went south to warmer waters, there would have been nothing left for them to eat.
Wessex Woman

Jayson

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #94 on: June 17, 2014, 02:27:11 AM »
Reply to Carl about The Wake:  I've finally finished the book on my Kindle and I've just ordered the hardbook because it was so brilliant, a classic I shall want to hand down to my family.   Yes, the ending was tragic but it could hardly be otherwise and of course, it finally explained a lot it hadn't explained.  It's definitely one I shall be reading again and again, and I now realise that there was a Glossery at the end of the book (only discovered it when I'd finished!) so it would be easier for readers with no knowledge of AS to follow as well.  I'm hoping to get a short book review on The Wake into the autumn Withowinde.
Wessex Woman

Bowerthane

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #95 on: June 25, 2014, 03:59:00 PM »
I’ve just finished Visigothic Spain, 409-711 by Roger Collins ( Blackwell 2004, ISBN 978-1-4051-4966-2).  Which I can recommend, but only if you’re beginning to extend your awareness of the wider world the Old English knew.  Because it was a bit of a disappointment for me, having ordered it on the long loan in hope of some ruddy great tome with which I could get down and dirty with the details.  For instance, that the Visigoths had three schools, at their capital Toledo, at Zaragoza and possibly Madrid, where the daughters as well as sons of the elite were educated; and that King Sisebut wrote a poem explaining why eclipses were natural phenomena.
   Also, in the opening chapter, Collins irritatingly backtracks into a round-up of the fate of  the Visigoths before they came to Iberia, which I knew well enough and had ordered a book with the title Visigothic Spain, 409-711 trusting that it would stick to Visigothic Spain between the years AD 409, and AD 711.  For some reason.  Then he goes into all the old conundrums about when is a Visigoth not an Ostrogoth/ the Teruingi or Greuthungi without explaining why you need to mess with all that in a book focusing on, as I say, Visigothic Spain, 409-711.  FFS. 

So as it was, the main eye-opener for me was that Paulus Orosius ( c. 385-420), the historian and theologian who wrote the geography-cum-history book that Alfred the Great had translated ( fully titled Seven Books of Histories against the Pagans) and added the Baltic bits from Wulfstan and Ohthere’s voyages, was a “Spanish priest” who wrote it in Iberia before AD 417.  Though now I come to check against other sources I’ve found, they say he was “born in Gallaecia ( possibly Braga in northern Portugal)”.   I’ll get back to this in connection with Isidore of Seville, who I did know lived and wrote in what is now Spain, because we know the Old English read his Etymologiae or Etymologies and Collins writes of hidden currents whereby links from Iberia to the British Isles in the Dark Ages seem to be better than generally believed.

Another eye-opener was “a number of small pieces of slate on which are carved various figures, letters and designs” that, even today, Spanish people might just plough up especially in the “Avila, Segovia and Salamanca” provinces.  These “are documents that served a wide variety of purposes.  Over 100 of them are known, and this number might be expected to increase with new discoveries” although they are easily broken and many exist only as shards.  The earliest can be dated ( or date themselves) from the reign of King Reccared ( AD 586-601) and the last from King Egica’s reign ( AD 687-701) near the end of the Visigothic kingdom in AD 711. “The inscriptions are of various kinds.  Some have been shown to be legal documents” comparable to those on parchment recorded in later centuries “essentially of ownership, but also including judgments given in disputes over property...  Other slates contain numbers, the significance of which is not always obvious, but it may be suspected” that they are “flock numbers, cereal yields, and so forth.  There are also some lists of names with numbers beside them, which may record renders owed to landowners by dependent cultivators.  How these types of document were used is not entirely clear.”  Part of a private letter has been found on one shard, and several others appear to be “school exercises” of repetitive sentences.  “Yet other texts have been interpreted as having magical significance, and containing curses.  Earlier Roman equivalents to these have been found in Bath and elsewhere in the empire, and their existence should not be seen as a sign of mental or other decline.”  So the Visigoths may have used them for anything.

Otherwise I learned a bit, but not a lot, more about Bishop Isidore of Seville.  For instance that St Augustine’s Pastoral Care was dedicated to Isidore’s elder brother, Leander, who met him in Constantinople in the 580s and who Isidore succeeded as bishop of Seville; and that the brothers of Seville figure as pretty typical members of “a significant group of bishops in the south, on both sides of the Visigothic/ Byzantine frontier, who were exchanging treatises and letters”.
   Of Etymologies, “as with many of his works” Collins writes that it “quickly became known outside Spain, and there is evidence for its being read in Francia, northern Italy, Ireland, and in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms before the end of the seventh century. The precise routes remain controversial, but the rapid dissemination of so many of Isidore’s writings, even in some cases within his own lifetime, is evidence of closer ties between the church in Spain and several other regions of western Europe than is usually allowed for.”  But whatever they were, one imagines that the sources for King Alfred’s copy of Orosius arrived via them, and that one had better not under-rate the likelihood of influence from Iberia reaching the Old English ( and vice versa?) in similar ways.  One scholarly opinion I’d laid hands on concerning Orosius drew attention to how “Curiously enough, some of the passages definitely ascribed by Alfred to Orosius are not to be traced in the original.  It is possible that, in such cases, Alfred availed himself of materials as yet unknown to us.” 
   So other books by Isidore that may have come our way include his History of the  Goths ( written between AD 620 and AD 625 including holidays, not to be confused with Jordanes’ book for which modern scholarship often uses the same title, although Jordanes called his On the Origins and Deeds of the Goths), his Differentiis or On Differences, a brave but clumsy first attempt at etymology, and Synonyma, a compilation of comparable passages from St Augustine. 

In Chapter 2 Collins mentions how “it was generally believed that the Visigothic royal treasure included items originally taken from the Temple in Jerusalem by the emperor Titus in 70 AD, which fell into the hands of Alaric when his men looted Rome in 410.”  Without breathing a word as to how this belief played out in Visigothic politics or religious belief, or even offering an opinion as to the likelihood of it.  For myself, I fear the Romans would have soon melted down the Menorah etc., possibly to strike those ‘Judea defeated’ coins; but there’s an extent to which the truth doesn’t matter.  There’s also an extent to which King Alfred consciously modelled himself on King Solomon for his educational programme, so one can imagine why rumours about the Temple treasures washing up in the Visigothic kingdom, and the question of their fate after its fall in AD 711, might pique the interest of a king known, according to Asser, to arrange “the investigation of matters unknown”.     

Then at one point Collins mentions “cave churches” in connection with the Visigoths without letting on what that might mean.  So hopefully the other book about the Visigoths I’ve ordered on the long loan will be a bit less Dick and Janey.  Only the Visigothic kingdom serves notice to the fact that AD 476 is only the conventional date for the end of Classical Antiquity and the beginning of the Dark Ages.  The facts on the ground include Vandal princes having baths, mosaics and pleasure gardens made for their palaces in North Africa after that date, where classical poetry was still being written in praise of them; and that an all-singing, all-dancing late classical civilisation, with palaces, basilicas and even the founding of new cities ( for instance Reccopolis in AD 578, founded by King Leovigild who named it after his son, Reccared) was kept alive and kicking by the Visigoths in Iberia until the irruption of the Moors in AD 711.  Collins does mention that according to Bishop Braulio of Zaragoza ( early seventh century) the Visigothic count Laurentius owned a library in Toledo, including Apringius of Beja’s ( c.550) Commentary on the Apocalypse, as an instance of how “the lay elite was literate enough to value the possession of such books.”   
   Don’t the Visigoths deserve some credit for that, I ask, even if the Romans hadn’t treated them like the cowboy’s ærs?  And am I the only one to wonder how the Old English remembered them?


______________________________________________________________________________
The moral right of the author to be identified in a sombrero, and carrying a straw donkey, has been asserted.

Jayson

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #96 on: July 01, 2014, 07:45:59 PM »
---could you start me off with the Visigoths, etc., as I only know the names so far, I regret to say!   What books would you suggest?
Wessex Woman

Linden

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #97 on: July 01, 2014, 08:31:22 PM »
Why not start with this?  It's over 100 years old but FREE! 
'Theodoric the Goth: King of the Ostrogoths, Regent of the Visigoths & Viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire, in the 4th Century A. D. '
by Thomas Hodgkin
 
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20063

I have not read it but there is not that much on the Visigoths unless you go for perhaps too specialised? modern scholarship such as 'The Visigoths from the Migration Period to the Seventh Century: An Ethnographic Perspective (Studies in Historical Archaeoethnology)' Peter Heather (Editor)
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hidethegn

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #98 on: July 24, 2014, 05:12:26 PM »
May I commend “THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS, The Uncomfortable Truth” by John Grehan & Martin Mace (Pen & Sword, 2012)?  It is a wholly convincing (though heavily emphasised) argument for the actual battle site to be a mile away from Battle Abbey.  Oops, yet another clanger for the Norman ‘experts’.  It also opens up and answers other questions in the tactical field, giving everyone a lot more credit for both courage and intelligence.
Another excellent study, comprehensive and authoritative, is Ken Dark’s “Britain and the End of the Roman Empire” (Arcadia, 2000) if anyone hasn’t read it?  Ever since “Britannia” appeared I have personally  been convinced of gradual, regional, integrations, the Apocalyptic (Victorian +) version never rang true.  He doesn’t actually talk about the early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms but he does explain in sensible and scholarly measures how the  Britanniae became Angliae.  My own research suggests that the Anglo-Saxons absorbed a good deal of Roman-British learning, becoming superb administrators and mathematicians long before 1066 (see my book), as numerate as they were literate, as well as being pre-eminent artists, which begs the question, “how did we become so superior”, whilst simultaneously answering, “why did everyone want to conquer us”?

David

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #99 on: July 24, 2014, 09:08:30 PM »

Hidethegn

It is all very well saying see my book but what is your name and what is the title of your book.

I'm astonished to hear that the Anglo-Saxons were superb at mathematics.  Please tell us about this mathematics.

Jayson

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #100 on: August 21, 2014, 07:38:00 PM »
Many thanks for your suggestions about books on the Goths and Visigoths, both.
I have just borrowed a fascinating book called 'It All Happened Before - The Home Guard Through the Ages' by John Radnor (pub. 1945). This would be especially useful to those of you who are interested in the weapons and clothes/uniforms of war down the ages because as it says at the top of the first Chapter, it is to do with 'Invasion From FYRD to HOME GUARD, 871 - 1940.  It is surprising to see how little or how slowly the weapons and clothes changed over the centuries, with the 'tin helmets' being virtually the same in 1494 and 1944, and the long bow doing the virtually the same thing as the Maxim. 
The first of many illustrations is of A Man of the Fyrd with a Saxon Thegn.
 
Wessex Woman

Steve

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #101 on: September 15, 2014, 03:22:03 PM »
Reading Old Norse by Jesse L Byock

Bowerthane

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #102 on: September 19, 2014, 02:51:14 PM »
Just had to take The Lombards by Neil Christie ( ISBN 0-631-18238-1, Blackwell 1995) back to the library.  Like that book on the Visigoths, it’s probably just the ticket if you are beginning to extend your knowledge of the Old English’s contemporary Germanic peoples, not least because the first chapter Longobard Origins goes into their homeland as the immediate southern neighbours of the Angles in the Elbe valley, and their stopovers in Bohemia and Pannonia during the Migration Period.  Then, when they do make it to northern Italy, there’s also an eerie sense of déjà vu in reading about a Germanic people settling and taking over a former Roman province: like rediscovering the Old English all over again.  Yet one downside is how little archaeology and interest there is about the Lombard period in modern Italy.  There’s been no use of aerial photography to detect crop marks, for instance, and whilst the book is adequately illustrated the ‘finds’ are on the whole a little underwhelming.
   The main eye-opener for me was that, after the conquest of Lombardy by Carolingian Gaul in AD 774, the Lombard duchy of Benevento in southern Italy remained unconquered, and became something of a magnet for Lombardian resistance to the Franks.  I never knew Lombardic lands or settlement went south of Rome!  Eventually Benevento lost its Lombardic cultural distinctiveness too, but not until many generations after ‘Lombardy’ in northern Italy became little more than a name.  Otherwise there was nothing about Queen Rosimunda ( d. c. 573) who arranged to have her husband, King Albion bumped off and, according to Paul the Deacon, came to a bad end; nor about Queen Theodelinda who may have reigned as regent for her son Adaloald ( 616-26) nor even Duchess Scauniperga of Benevento, who ruled in her own right there after the death of her husband, Gisulf II.  A Girl Power angle I was keen to learn more about for my kiddies’ book since it’s useful for tripping up ignorant and stereotyped preconceptions about the Dark Ages and germanic peoples generally, plus ( bearing in mind you can’t turn round for Boy Stuff in a warrior-heroic age) may interest girl readers for whom I make a special effort lest they feel bored or overlooked.   
   So now I’m wondering whether I should bother ordering anything more detailed on the long loan.
   

   Incidentally, words such as ‘saloon’/ ‘salon’/ French salle etc. appear to originate in a Lombardic equivalent to Old English saal, ‘hall’.  A point worth remembering when some Classicist, francophile or other cultural Quisling gets started about how refined etc. Greek- and Latin-based words are, especially in contrast to rude and uncultured teutonicisms.  Another germanic loan-word into Latin was ‘harp’, so don’t forget to ask him which end of the word ‘harpsichord’ is more lah-dih-dah than the other and, if you really want to piddle on his parade, innocently go into how the Latin noun ars, ‘skill’ was mistranscribed into English as art so that the Classically educated don’t have to explain why they have fathered ars departments, ars galleries and never mind schools and theatres for the performing ars, all over the English-speaking world.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2014, 12:37:48 PM by Bowerthane »

Linden

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #103 on: September 20, 2014, 06:31:08 PM »
New Approaches to Editing Old English Verse (1998) Larratt Keefer & O'Brien O'Keeffe


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peter

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Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Reply #104 on: September 21, 2014, 08:10:07 PM »
The Anglo-Saxon State by James Campbell...Hambledon and London.    Ancient Weapons in Britain by Logan Thompson...Pen & Sword (Military).
A fact-filled duo.