The way of the book and the way of the wild: a review of Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake

I loved The Wake–neither modern English nor Anglo-Saxon, but a recognizably adapted “Shadow language” with a vocabulary purely Old English and Old Norse. A fascinating look at language and how we find ourselves comprehending beneath the conscious level-with the heart, you might say.

For the Wynn

there is ways to see this world i saes.  there is the way of the boc and the way of the wilde there is the god of the boc and the gods of the mere there is the way of the crist and the eald ways of this land

Paul Kingsnorth, The Wake, p. 334

Be you whole, earth, mother of people, may you be opened in God’s embrace, filled with food for humans’ use.

Eleventh-century field remedy,  London, British Library Cotton MS Vitellius C. viii

The Old English word for ‘library’ is ‘boc hord’ – book hoard.  And I’m something of a book-hoarder myself: I have a tendency to buy them second-hand and hold onto them for a long time before they rise to the top of my to-read list.  And then, very often I enjoy a book so much that I wonder why I didn’t read it…

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