Sunday, September 21, 2008

More Fun Than You Can Shake A Broadsword At

In July of 1980 (I was still a single young man at the time) I joined a book club. My "freebies" were a collection of poetry from Byron, Yeats and Shelley, Poor Richards Almanac, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and a four-volume series of history about the English Plantagenet Kings.

I'm just getting around to reading about the Plantagenets, and I do believe that this is a good thing. I love history, and so much of history depends on context and how the events being told fit into the local, regional and world situation at the time. There was a time when I would do this kind of reading with three or four books open on my desk, so I could do quick (or not so quick) lookups of the not-quite-main characters, battles, places and events. Nowadays, the internet (Al Gore, PBUH) is perfect for this kind of auxiliary reading.

I'm barely 50 pages into the first volume and have already stopped twice because I had a page of notes to research. Eleanor of Aquitaine is more than a name dropped occasionally. The reference to unlucky Arthur, captured and never seen again, is now set amongst the players of the day, adding a richness to the background of the story as it unfolds. I'm able to differentiate between Queen Mathilda and Empress Mathilda, two regal contemporaries who maneuvered against each other for years in an effort to gain (and regain) the crown.

I'm still keeping a page of notes to keep straight all the various Henrys, Richards, and Roberts, and who begat who and such. Methinks I missed my calling, and perhaps would've been happy spending my life as a research librarian.

Time to get back to my book.

5 comments:

Gaz said...

You know, I always wanted to be a librarian. I have no idea why I didn't pursue it.

The Maximum Leader said...

Are you reading the Costain books on the Plantagenets? They are the first (and only) four volume history of the dynasty that leaps to my mind. They are great books.

Ted said...

Yep, those be the ones.

Rachael Phipps said...

what's the ISBN Number Dad? You are coincidently reading about Molly's Thesis topic and she need sources.

Rachael said...

I don't know why that put my whole name up there... or even how it knew it...

nevermind. Google.

 
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