The Anglo Saxon World by M.C.D. Drout

The Anglo-Saxon World

In between rolling translations of Anglo-Saxon chronicles, poems, histories, M.C.D. Drout hawks 566 years of kings, pirates, popes, monks, wars, buildings and battles. But most and first of all, he hooks us with language, giving us bits of Anglo-Saxon poems, lists of Old English words (some, siton, foton), Old English websites, including, where he has written a free Anglo Saxon grammar called “King Alfred’s Grammar” named after his (and soon to be yours) best and biggest hero : King Alfred; and where he serves up his recordings of the entire corpus of Anglo-Saxon poetry. Whew!
Then he gives us, cut up into nice round 100 year sizes, the history of a “people who lived in a place full of Celtic place-names, surrounded by Roman ruins, bringing with them Germanic legends, and building Christian Churches”. Organized by the MaCGyVr principle, it is a history of 6 ages: Migration, Conversion, Golden, Viking, Reform and Fall.
Throughout, he tells us marvelous stories of the marvelous, noting what historians know, what they fight about, what they hate each other for, and how to read historical interpretations as interpretations, how to consider what makes sense, what doesn’t, and how to fall in love with the material of Anglo-Saxon history, its indeterminacy, its scarcity, its ongoing reconstruction.
In between he does stand-up:

Jefferson came up with the idea that the front of the [great] seal should have a picture of Hengist and Horsa …. and that the backside of the seal … would picture Pharoah, sitting in a chariot, as he road through the parted red sea … with the Israelites on the other side, following the pillar of fire that led them to the promised land. You know, I have to say, the eagle was probably the safe way to go here….

ORIGIN & CAUSE by Shelly Reuben

Let’s just say that murders happened in the middle of other things: a cop,  a lawyer, a fire investigator get up, they fight with their wives, they eat. Sometimes they think. The law is something they think about.  How it came to be what it is, where it came from, when it changed.  If you have a father who reads, who respects the history of things, who loves the Law, you think about what a lawyer should be, what the law should be, what an institution like the law allows human beings to be.

In Europe, rich people sometimes keep a modest apartment in a poor or marginal area of their city. They call it their “pied a terre”. Translated, this means “foot on the ground”. It is said that their purpose in maintaining these small apartments is to remind them of their roots and to keep them in touch with reality. And that’s exactly why I always keep my copy of Letters To A Young Lawyer in my briefcase. The words within, the philosophy, Harris’  love of simplicity and reverence for the law, this is my psychological pied a terre.

The Lost Army of Cambysus by Paul Sussman read by Gordon Griffin

An English schoolboy’s happy meal: a murder, a bit of Herodotus, a little masochism, a little colonialism, a shovelful of archaeology, a box of cheroots, a little petit bourgeois pettiness, a pretty but not too pretty girl who works with animals, a plain, uxurious police inspector, and a healthy dollop of fetishism in the form of text, genealogically charged artifacts, and dead soldiers: “an army of old men rising wearily from the sands….”

Quite wonderful. A mouthful. Lux.