Friday, December 17, 2010

Hereward, A Review

A professor, whom I am taking a course with, gave me a book to read called Hereward by Victor Head. It is a far cry from Charles Kingsley's novel on Hereward as Head is looking strictly at the historical man. He listed all of the historical sources for Hereward's life and what they contained, although the Gesta Herewardii, account in the Liber Eliensis and even the parts from Gaimar's history that deal with Hereward are too long to be reproduced entirely in the book.
Head is framing his discussion of Hereward the Wake, the Saxon hero of the Lincolnshire fens, around an argument made in a book by a General Harward that he is the descendant of Hereward, and discussing Hereward's career and impact on history. The argument against General Harward got a little tiresome at times. Head also wrote about Kingsley's novel and other Victorian interpretations of the Hereward legend and his connection to the genesis of Robin Hood. He overlooks however, the Waverly novel written by Sir Walter Scott called Count Robert of Paris. The Scott novel sounds fascinating since he places Hereward in the Varangian Guard during his time of exile and places him in a story with Bohemond.
The Victor Head book is an excellent starting place for anyone who wants to know more about Hereward and cannot read Latin, Old English or Old French. What it lacks is the author's best guess for a reconstruction of Hereward's life and the evidence for it.
It is not light reading either. It is a book for when you really want to know just the facts.

5 comments:

Tracy said...

The Victor Head book is an excellent starting place for anyone who wants to know more about Hereward and cannot read Latin, Old English or Old French.
Well, that's certainly me! OK, I can understand a little latin (emphasis on little), but if Old French is to French what Old English is to English then definitely not.

anachronist said...

It is not light reading either. It is a book for when you really want to know just the facts.

I don't know...I like reading in Latin. Not that I understand much but then you can boast to all and sundry "yeah I read Latin texts, original texts mind you..." ;p

Tracy said...

Whereas I can only boast 'yeah, I can read the odd word of latin, even the odd phrase, but have to resort to a dictionary to really make any headway - which really slows me down :)'

anachronist said...

Whereas I can only boast 'yeah, I can read the odd word of latin, even the odd phrase, but have to resort to a dictionary to really make any headway - which really slows me down :)'

I bet many people still find it impressive - I certainly do!

The Red Witch said...

Just making the effort to read anything in the original language is impressive. I am always impressed with the efforts you both put into your own self-education.
Yes Old French is like Old English: no spelling rules, everything spelled phonetically and dependent on regional dialect plus words that are no longer in use or their meaning has been altered by time.
At some point I should do my own reconstruction of Herward's life. The facts are fogged by local grievances.