Sunday 17 December 2017

Albion Awakening Book List

I'm down with a bit of flu at the moment with a brain like a rice pudding that's been left out in the rain overnight. Hence I'm not really up to writing anything requiring much effort. But it occurred to me that it might be an interesting idea to compile a list of books relevant to the theme of Albion Awakening. I hoped that if I started it off then others might come in with their own suggestions. In that way we could have a broad spectrum of works. I'll make a start with the obvious ones.

My two first choices should be uncontroversial. They are C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. In the latter's case the books, of course, are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien wanted to create a British mythology (English really, I believe) and he did so more successfully than anyone could have dreamed possible. His stories have sunk into the national, and, more than that, anglophone, consciousness. These books have so much spiritual authority that one cannot doubt they were inspired from above. I mean, one really cannot doubt that. I'm not speaking loosely. Tolkien had a spiritual mission and he fulfilled it magnificently. Just consider the arid intellectual field in the mid 20th century at the time he was working. He was going completely against prevailing cultural winds. But he ploughed his own course, sustained by his religion, the power of his imagination and, very probably, his dogged stubbornness.

With Lewis, the choice of books is more difficult because he wrote so many. But I think I would start off with the so called Space Trilogy, especially the last one, That Hideous Strength, which really is about Albion awakening. A cultural and political situation not a million miles away from the one we have now is squeezing the spiritual life out of the country. It is orchestrated by demons who Lewis wittily calls 'macrobes', aided by their human dupes and accomplices, most of whom are not aware of the existence of the macrobes but who can be used because of their own character defects which should be a lesson to us all. A small band of people faithful to spiritual truth hold out against them, and these, in turn, are supported by angelic powers, though only from afar which I think reflects reality. Human beings can be helped and inspired but we must work out our own destiny. Interestingly, one of this band is an atheist. Another is a bear but that's probably not an essential detail. The point perhaps is, though, that in times of great spiritual darkness if even just a few souls stay true to God, or simply, as in the atheist's case, common decency, that can be enough to eventually turn the tide.

Then there are the Narnia stories and any of Lewis's many books of Christian apologetics, Mere Christianity to begin with.

Geoffrey Ashe is an author we have spoken of before on this blog. His Camelot and the Vision of Albion was a ground breaking work that delved into the British myth as expressed principally through the legend of King Arthur. See here for some more on that.

Dion Fortune was an English occultist who wrote a book called Glastonbury: Avalon of the Heart which is well worth reading in this context. There's a post about it here.

Finally on my brief preliminary list, there's a book called The Light in Britain by Grace and Ivan Cooke. This may not be to all tastes since it purports to be a clairvoyant investigation into the prehistoric past of some on the ancient sites of the British Isles, notably Stonehenge, Avebury and Silbury Hill.  One doesn't have to give it uncritical assent but it certainly stimulates the imagination and that, surely, is what any book on the Albion Awakening theme should do.

So there we are. I've started the list off, admittedly with some easy choices. Please feel free to add some more of your own.


John Fitzgerald said...

Great choices, William, and superbly put. I'd add 'Religion and the Rebel' by Colin Wilson, 'A Glastonbury Romance' by John Cowper Powys, Rosemary Sutcliff's late Roman/Arthurian duo, 'The Lantern Bearers' and 'Sword at Sunset', and Alan Garner's first three books - 'The Weirdstone of Brisingamen', 'Moon of Gomrath' and 'Elidor' for their mythic charge and imaginative intensity. Also pretty much anything by Catherine Fisher - especially 'Corbenic', perhaps - wonderfully rich and imaginative children's/teen fiction set often around the England/Wales border. Fertile ground indeed.

William Wildblood said...

Some excellent suggestions, John. I really enjoyed Rosemary Sutcliff's books when I was a boy. I'm trying to get my son to read them but it's hard to get him to read anything at the moment! Ditto Alan Garner though, as you seem to be implying (though you may not be), the first three more than The Owl Service which didn't really 'take' with me.

I've not heard of Catherine Fisher which is good. That's the point of asking other people their opinion so one can make new discoveries.

Bruce Charlton said...

I have written about several other authors here (eg John Michell) but would only wish to add the name of Owen Barfield, who was directly concerned with The Matter of Albion over a writing career of half a century - perhaps most directly in Unancestral Voice and some essays in Romanticism Comes of Age and The Rediscovery of Meaning.

For me, Barfield's 'prescription' of 'what we need to do' is the most convincing of all - although I should make clear it is not easy to understand the depth and profundity of his contribution (it took me some years); which is why I have recently made a blog trying to 're-explain' him in a more accessible fashion,

and intend to publish a book on the subject.

William Wildblood said...

Bruce, do you think Barfield's ideas influenced Lewis, especially in the more magical aspects of the Narnia stories?

Bruce Charlton said...

William - Barfield *certainly* influenced Lewis to become a theist, via the debate/ correspondence leading up to Lewis's conversion that Lewis (in Surprised by Joy) nicknamed The Great War.

Beyond that, Barfield did not think he influenced Lewis, certainly not wrt Lewis's Christian writings, and probably not wrt his fiction.

Indeed, after Lewis became Christian, Barfield said that they never again had a deep substantive discussion on First Things (which saddened Barfield, but Lewis absolutely refused to engage).


All the above is at the 'materialist' level of analysis, in terms of perceptible spoken and written material - but it is possible to see Barfield as having had a subtler and pervasive spiritual influence on Lewis and Tolkien, and the phenomenon of The Inklings; and this is a line I am actively pursuing

Chiu ChunLing said...

I'm going to say that the bear, along with the other animals at Ransom's house, illustrate the Adamic dominion over nature which stands in quite start contrast to the animals in the experimental labs of N.I.C.E. (and their actions on being freed). It is hard to say that this is not of at least equal importance with the presence and friendship of MacPhee (or rather, that his being a skeptic is no bar to them).

It is even harder to say that the bear itself is not more crucial to the actual plot, though one must never mistake plot for meaning.

William Wildblood said...

You're undoubtedly right. I was just meaning that any present day equivalent of this little group wouldn't necessarily need to include a bear to make it complete.

Wurmbrand said...

Martyn Skinner's The Return of Arthur, a narrative poem of about 550 pages (1966), might be added. It will be the subject of a post at the Pilgrim in Narnia blog before long.

Dale Nelson

William Wildblood said...

Thanks for the suggestion of another author with whom I'm not familiar.