3 Matching Annotations
  1. Sep 2017
    1. This is the story of 16th century Europe, and the political earthquake that was protestantism. The overarching historical narrative unfolds around the lives of fictional characters who might have lived in this historic period.

      Follett's literary reenactment explores the intricacies of the Protestant Reformation through a cast of strategically diverse characters, whose stories span across multiple continents, nations, and cities. Each character is an important harbinger of larger historical trends. Within the masterfully established geo-political reality, each of their decisions serve to gradually reveal their distinct personalities and temperaments, belief systems and ideologies, and cultural identities.

  2. May 2015
    1. Lethe (Leith)

      The River Lethe was one of the rivers of Hades in Greek mythology. Exposure to its waters was held to lead to loss of memory, or, more intriguingly, a state of "unmindfulness" and oblivion. From this origin, it has re-appeared throughout western culture, from Dante to Tony Banks's first solo album (River Lethe in popular culture, Wikipedia).

      By providing the alternative spelling of Leith, Alasdair Roberts 'doubles' this meaning with the Water of Leith, a river that runs through Edinburgh, and co-locates ancient Greek and contemporary Scots mythology.

      The idea of eternal return is bound up with memory, with cultures being compelled to repeat and confront the missteps of the past. So the oblivion of forgetfulness provided by the endless Lethe provides a form of antidote or escape.

    2. The Flyting of Grief and Joy

      Flyting is fighting with words, a verbal contest between two adversaries who trade barbed insults and boasts, often in verse (Wikipedia entry). In working with this form, Alasdair Roberts is very probably inspired by Hamish Henderson's sung poem The Flyting o' Life and Daith (words, recording). The Tobar an Duchlais site notes that

      Hamish Henderson finished this poem in 1963, having drawn on an anonymous German poem he had seen in 1939. Referring to the melody that he composed in order for it to be performed as a song, he stated: "[it] somewhat resembles the 'urlar' (or 'ground') of a pibroch". The poem was first published in 'The Scottish Broadsheet' (May, 1963).