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In Search of England: Journeys into the English Past

Wood, Michæl

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ISBN 10: 0520225821 / ISBN 13: 9780520225824
Published by University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, U.S.A., 2000
Used Condition: like new Hardcover
From Heidelberg Books (Olivebridge, NY, U.S.A.)

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*First Printing (full # line starting at 1)* Hardcover in Like New condition in a dust jacket that is Like New as well. A great copy of a fascinating exploration of myth and history in the British Isles. From the dj flap --- "England is the birthplace of many immortal legends told around the world: King Arthur and Camelot, the Holy Grail, Robin Hood, the mysterious Isle of Avalon. Are these famous stories based on historical events and actual people? And what do they tells us about the character and origins of the Anglo-Saxon world, a culture that helped shape American identity? In his absorbing new book, Michael Wood examines the roots of English history. Peeling back the layers of literary and oral material that has accumulated over the ages, he offers a fascinating series of rich stories -- part history, part myth -- that ,directly or indirectly, touch on questions of English history and identity. He looks back at the legends surrounding Alfred the Great, King Athelstan, the lost library of Glastonbury and more. --- Wood's emphasis is the Early Middle Ages, and the first two sections of the book offer deep excursions into particular moments in the history of that era. --- In the third part of 'In Search of England' Wood writes about places that illuminate interesting aspects of early England: Tinsley Wood, near Shefield, which has been claimed as the site of Athelstan's great victory against the Celts in 937; a farmhouse in Devon which has been occupied since Domesday and possibly long before; and the village of Peatling Magna in Leicestershire, scene of an extraordinary confrontation with King Henry III in 1265.". Bookseller Inventory # 001002

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Bibliographic Details

Title: In Search of England: Journeys into the ...

Publisher: University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:like new

Dust Jacket Condition: Like New

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Where does the idea of England and Englishness come from? Are there particular moments in the Dark and Middle Ages when we can see it begin to develop? How is being English different from being British? In 1113, French priests on a fund-raising tour were told by a crowd in front of St Peter's Church, Bodmin, that Arthur would one day return and "Britain would rise again". When they expressed scepticism, a near-riot broke out. The Arthur myth was then already established. But how had it gained credence? And is there any truth at its core? In his new book, Michael Wood examines this and other fascinating questions concerning Robin Hood, Alfred the Great, King Athelstan and the idea of the Norman Yoke. Peeling back to layers of literary and oral material that have accumulated over the years to separate fact from fiction, Wood demonstrates the fascinating build-up of a series of rich ideas - part history, part myth - that have contributed to the sense of what it means to be English. In the third part of "In Search of England", Michael Wood writes about particular places that illuminate aspects of early England and whose stories resonate through history: Tinsley Wood, near Sheffield, which has been claimed as the site of Athelstan's great victory against the Celts in 937; a farmhouse in Devon which has seen continuity of occupation since Domesday and possibly long before; and the village of Peatling Magna in Leicestershire, scene of an extraordinary confrontation with the King in 1265. These are the places and the events that offer a rooted, complementary version of the history that is discussed earlier in the book. "In Search of England" is published at a significant moment. As we move into the new millennium and as the various countries that make up the United Kingdom begin to assert their own identities, it offers a potent and revealing account of the origins of Englishness and the "Matter of Britain".

Review:

From the popular television historian who has previously gone in search of the Trojan War and in the footsteps of Alexander, comes a new study of a pressing question, now that "Britain" seems to be an increasingly meaningless concept: What does it mean to English? Wood traces an answer through many of the most cherished national myths, like Robin Hood, King Arthur, Alfred the Great and the mysteries of Glastonbury. As you would expect from Wood, he ranges about over the whole of England, rather than sticking to the obvious places. He visits Tinsley Wood near Sheffield, claimed as the site of Athelstan's great victory over the Celts in 937 AD. He finds a farmhouse in Devon that has been continuously occupied for a thousand years and a village in Leicestershire where the local peasantry confronted the King's soldiers in 1265 to tell them that they were violating the rights of "the common people of England." The book also boasts a wonderful, judicious collection of reproductions of old posters and paintings showing how our forefathers, particularly the Victorians, imaginatively recreated England's past in their own image. Timely, readable and fascinating stuff, this is popular history at its very best. -- Christopher Hart

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