Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Hip of A King?

As many who know me very well are aware, Parke Godwin is one of my favorite novelists, and his somewhat recent death was sad news for many of us.  Godwin produced everything from absurdist science fiction to a very great deal of historical fiction, and for many years I wasn't even aware he was American, not British.

My recent lunch-read has been "Lord of Sunset" - the story of Harold, the last Saxon king of England, who lost the Battle of Hastings and his life in one fell swoop; and who held to Edith Swannesha ("Swan-neck" - a nickname actually not attested in contemporary sources, but arose generations later), his wife outside of canonical law, for all his life.

As I like to do, I read about characters from historicals, and often find myself bouncing from one article to another, and so I've also done a bit of reading here and there about other pre-Conquest kings, particularly of Edward the Confessor's line.

And so, this post about the possibility that one of the bones of Alfred the Great have been found naturally fascinates.  Having grown up on Godwin, the Conquest still feels like a crime.  It's hard not to speculate that Godwin - whose namesake, Harold's father, the formidable noble whom even the Confessor feared - looks at the ancient Godwin family as his own, because his stories turn and turn and turn upon the tragedies of the Conquest of England by the Normans.  For him, in so many of his works, the injustice is still fresh as a bleeding bruise, and reading him when I was young even created in me some prejudice against the Normans.

Pre-Conquest Britain is a fascinating piece of history, prejudice or no.  I'll certainly be watching to see if this comes across the Pond some time soon.

Click through for a better look at the find, and a couple more clips of the upcoming BBC special.

I get a tangential giggle out of the fact that the volume controls on these clips go to eleven.

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