Want to learn about Anglo-Saxon culture?

I’ve got a book for you to read. I don’t think it’s in print so you have to find it on used or old book online stores.

It is not by Marjorie Taylor Greene; I’m not sure she knows how to write.

It is by Charles Dickens and is entitled, A Child’s History of England, and is often hilariously funny, even while endlessly bloody. I should have counted the beheadings and fully detailed methods of torture but ran out of fingers, toes, matchsticks, paper and civilization. My impression was since every vicious incursion or uprising — which occurred multiple times per page — apparently wiped out everybody in its path, who was left to populate the island? And cough up again and again money to pay for the next war?

Dickens relates English history from “In the old days, a long, long while ago,” a time when Phoenicians traded with the “savage Britons…poor savages, going almost naked, or only dressed in the rough skins of beasts, and staining their bodies, as other savages do, with colored earths and the juices of plants.” And he ends with the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Moreover, “The whole country was covered with forests and swamps. The greater part of it was very misty and cold. There were no roads, no bridges, no streets, no houses that you would think deserving of the name. A town was nothing but a collection of straw-covered huts…and a low wall made of mud….They were clever in basket-work, as savage people often are; and they could make a coarse kind of cloth, and some very bad earthenware.”

Yeah, this is sounding like America First people.

As I read, I had the strong impression that Dickens was telling the story in a classroom full of 9-year-old boys who oohed and gasped delightedly at every monstrous death, while Dickens lingered over every Grand Guignol moment.

Decades ago, before I even realized I had this book in the Dickens section of my own bookshelves, I spent years reading English history. So, unlike one critic I just read who said Dickens was no historian, I can say his knowledge of English history is solid.

Moreover, he takes personal interest in each of the kings and queens, loathing a great many (Henry VIII was maybe his least favorite) and slicing quite a number of them apart with searing wit. I was happy that one of the kings he really liked was Henry II — who was my favorite king, as well — and some of the ones he despised the most were Henry’s kids.

But of course, as a number of actual historians have been pointing out, the Anglo-Saxons caved in 1066, when William sailed over from Normandy and took control. After that, all the Anglo-Saxons could do was organize an occasional primitive uprising and be slaughtered where they stood.

This book is Dickens and his genius and satirical wit rise from the pages and will put you in an hypnotic trance.

Or not.

But you’ll have a good time realizing why Anglo-Saxons and their “culture” need not be reborn into an America First movement — not unless you want to relo into mud huts and resume making “very bad earthenware,” with which to trade with the Phoenicians. Wherever you may find them.

 

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