". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Reading Wednesday - The Pagan Lord (2014 in US) by Bernard Cornwell

 #7 in The Saxon Tales of 10th-11th century Danish trained Saxon warrior, Uhtred, who serves the family of Alfred of Wessex. This one shows the nuts and bolts of formulaic story composition. The dry-walling is well-joined and measured, but nonetheless the discerning eye needs more plaster over the seams of structure. 

\Why no, Lord Uhtred does not take possession of Bebbanburg. There was no plot reason that Uhtred didn't take Bebbanburg, despite author's handwavium trying to explain it.  The obvious reason is that author can't let go of this device to keep Uhtred on the playing field, under the dominion of (some) hated others, rather than becoming the power in his own right he couldn't avoid being, if he sat as lord of his own domain fortress.

That latter development would make for a lot more interesting and new stories than the repetition of what we've already had. Since in terms of the series, we're just at the turn from 10th to 1Ith century perhaps having the fictional Uhtred taking possession of the real Bebbanburg would screw the history too much; the Vikings didn't destroy the Saxon fortification until 993.

The time has arrived to retire Uhtred, who has already survived significantly beyond the average span of a warrior who maintains his leadership as part of the shield wall.

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