Being a report from distempered times
A time possibly more disordered than our own.
James Holloway has written to alert us to the online appearance of the Eastern Association, his rambunctious new 17th century blog, which plunges us into the English Civil War.
James writes -
My model was James Ellroy's "LA Quartet" of crime novels, set in Los Angeles from the end of World War II to the late Fifties: weave fictional people into actual history, in an effort to come to an understanding of the "meaning" or "spirit" of an era.
One of the many remarkable things about the English Civil War was the huge literary output - tracts, sermons, etc. The Puritans were hugely dedicated diarists and journalists. (Wallington's run to 44 volumes, I think). Elizabethan poetry and the King James version were the stuff of daily speech; they were intoxicated with words. . . That period also saw the rise of the "news industry," with each side putting out various newsbooks and what not.
So it struck me that it would be interesting to try to tell the story of the English Civil War with the types of writings that were produced in the period, stitched together with some basic novelistic type narrative, and using technology available today to tell it on a quasi-real-time basis. The designers and I looked at newsbooks, tracts, etc. and tried to come up with something that "felt" 17th century. Of course, there's no way I could really reproduce actual 17th century rhetoric. It's not easy to read - try Clarendon, for example. But it is possible to get echoes. . .
A Red Hand on the blog guides you to the start of the story in the summer of 1642. Edmund has just returned from America; Sydney is in London, buttoning down business and preparing to ride west; John is organizing an attack on the forces of Charles II. Religious animosities are fierce.
The dates on the site correspond to the dates they actually occurred in 1642. "On August 10, there's a bit of narrative about Cromwell seizing the plate of Cambridge College, because that's what Cromwell did on August 10th, 1642." On September 8th, peace is rejected and Leicester is threatened.
Meanwhile Sydney is furiously denouncing -
. . .the Second Son of a Knight who hath Pickled his once-notable Gifts as a Soldier in Drink and Dissipated the Fortune of his Ancient Family by complete Contempt for the Elemental principles of Economy. . .
Ah, yes, the modern connection. Our Parliament and Congress are full of second sons.