This book deals with the Crusades in general and the First Crusade in specific, and is at least as much about myth as history.Read More
At one point in James Wood’s novel The Book Against God, the spiritually tortured narrator Thomas Bunting is transported to a painful recollection of adolescence. Thomas is the son of a kind and intelligent Anglican priest. His childhood was filled with love and attention. Then one day when he was 14, he says, he walked into his school’s assembly hall and, as though stepping through some kind of portal, entered into a state of self-consciousness:Read More
As Charles Homer Haskins pointed out in his humbly durable masterpiece The Renaissance of the 12th Century, the Dark Ages weren’t dark at all. Fiercely cold most of the time (due to a bout of climate change), but not dark in the sense of shuttered. Beknighted, but not benighted.
The great scholar John Addington Symonds (whose absence from bookstore shelves bloody well qualifies him for honoring here in Absent Friends, somewhere down the line) put it very prettily when he observed that any age without Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael must necessarily seem dark. The ostentatious showboating of the Italian Renaissance is the problem in a nutshell when it comes to thinking about the innocent ages that come before.Read More