Winters in the World: A Journey through the Anglo-Saxon Year (Hardcover)
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Interweaving literature, history, and religion, an exquisite meditation on the turning of the seasons in medieval England—now in paperback.
Winters in the World is a beautifully observed journey through the cycle of the year in Anglo-Saxon England, exploring the festivals, customs, and traditions linked to the different seasons. Drawing on a wide variety of source material, including poetry, histories, and religious literature, Eleanor Parker investigates how Anglo-Saxons felt about the annual passing of the seasons and the profound relationship they saw between human life and the rhythms of nature. Many of the festivals celebrated in the United Kingdom today have their roots in the Anglo-Saxon period, and this book traces their surprising history while unearthing traditions now long forgotten. It celebrates some of the finest treasures of medieval literature and provides an imaginative connection to the Anglo-Saxon world.
About the Author
Eleanor Parker is a lecturer in medieval English literature at Brasenose College, University of Oxford. She writes regularly for publications including History Today and BBC History Magazine, and she is the author of Dragon Lords: The History and Legends of Viking England and Conquered: The Last Children of Anglo-Saxon England.
“A heart-warmer for the coming winter, . . . [and] we could do worse than choose Ms. Parker’s book for a wintry companion.”
— The Wall Street Journal
“With her book, Parker illuminates the inner workings of the Anglo-Saxon mind in a way that evokes the once-impressive interconnectedness of the religious, natural, and social realms.”
— New Criterion
"This lovely book acts as a portal back to an older time, using the poetry of medieval England to unlock a world where the seasons, and the changing weather, are a subject of deep pleasure and renewing wonder."
— The Guardian
"Parker takes us through the rhythms of the Anglo-Saxon year, charting its seasons and traditions: its weather and agricultural patterns, its festivals and religious customs . . . Her lyrical, insightful book is being published in a year in which heat records have been broken across the world, and Weland’s winter-cold misery has ceded to a summer-hot equivalent. If heat is now the invading warrior, then it is one we have invited. As the crisis deepens, the texts that survive from Anglo-Saxon England 'speak truths that we still need to hear' about the rhythms of nature and our dependency on the bounty of the earth."
— Times Literary Supplement
“A literary book of calendric history . . . Parker’s Winters in the World is an education fit for the [scholar] and lay person who wishes to expand upon what it means to exist as humans in a world full of wyrd winters.”
— Front Porch Republic
"Parker in her fascinating and authoritative new book Winters in the World . . . rejoices in two advantages. She has read and understood the original texts and she is superb in explaining them and the world from which they sprang."
— Daily Telegraph
“Extraordinary . . . To follow Parker’s lucid account is to experience both a profound sense of kinship with the past and at the same time a sense of rupture, of profound difference, for better and for worse. I couldn’t help but feel immensely sad at what has been lost.”
— First Things
"Delightful and informative . . .Parker writes with great empathy, evoking the lost world of pre-Conquest England."
— BBC History
"A lyrical journey through the Anglo-Saxon year . . . [this book] is a beautiful, charming, and evocative voyage into what, to many of us, seems a very distant past . . . Parker shows herself to be a master of her subject. Her knowledge is superb; her writing a form of poetry itself . . . No-one can come away from this book still believing the Anglo-Saxons to have lived through the 'Dark Ages.'"
— Get History
"Both an accessible introduction to the Anglo-Saxon age and an evocative celebration of its seasonal rhythms and links with nature, this book guides readers through the year as captured by the writers of the era."
— History Revealed
"This beautifully written account transports us through each season in a deeply sensual manner, from freezing ice to warm, spongy loam in a year whose rituals are still thrumming below our own seasonal journeys.”
— The New European
"Winters in the World presents it readers with a guided tour through the Anglo-Saxon perception and measurement of time – a reckoning that was more closely linked to the rhythms of the natural world than our own today yet from which we still retain aspects of which we may not be aware."
— The Well-Read Naturalist
"In this wonderfully poetic journey through the Anglo-Saxon year, Parker offers a profound meditation on time and the world, nature and its seasons. Plunging the reader into the glorious cadences of Old English poetry with her supple translations, Parker brings to vivid life the terrors of winter, spring’s promise, the joyful warmth of summer , and the melancholy of autumn, powerfully connecting us with a rich and vital past that we have not quite lost."
— Carolyne Larrington, professor of Medieval European literature, University of Oxford
"A fascinating, informative, and hauntingly authentic account of the Anglo-Saxon experience of time; Parker shows that understanding the early English calendar is a crucial point of access to Anglo-Saxon spirituality, learning, science, poetry, and much more besides."
— Francis Young, author of "Magic in Merlin’s Realm: A History of Occult Politics in Britain"
"This book is a treasure and a delight, full of beautiful poetry and prose from the treasure-house of Anglo-Saxon culture. Lucid translations, accessible introductions and explanation, all combine to lead us through the cycle of the seasons . . . Parker offers us a vision of time itself made sacred, each month hallowed, and full of unexpected beauty and wisdom."
— Malcolm Guite, Girton College, University of Cambridge