Monday, January 27, 2014

1066 And All That (1931)

1066 And All That. W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman. 1931/1993. Barnes & Noble. 116 pages. [Source: Bought]

What an odd little book. An odd little book that purposefully messes around with historical facts and figures just trying to make readers of all ages laugh. I'll try to give you several examples of what makes this book unique. I think that is probably the only way to do this book justice. It will either be a book that appeals to your sense of humor, or, not.
The Ancient Britons were by no means savages before the Conquest, and had already made great strides in civilization, e.g. they buried each other in long round wheelbarrows (agriculture) and burnt each other alive (religion) under the guidance of even older Britons called Druids or Eisteddfods, who worshipped the Middletoe in the famous Druidical churchyard at Stoke Penge. (3)
The conversion of Britain was followed by a Wave of Danes, accompanied by their sisters or Sagas, and led by such memorable warriors as Harold Falsetooth and Magnus the Great, who, landing correctly in Thanet, overran the country from right to left, with fire. After this the Danes invented a law called the Danelaw, which easily proved that since there was nobody else left alive there, all the right-hand part of England belonged to them. The Danish Conquest, was, however undoubtedly a Good Thing, because although it made the Danes top nation for a time it was the cause of Alfred the Cake (and in any case they were beaten utterly in the end by Nelson). (8)
King Arthur invented Conferences because he was secretly a Weak King and liked to know what his memorable thousand and one Knights wanted to do next. (10)
Alfred had a very interesting wife called Lady Windermere (The Lady of the Lake), who was always clothed in the same white frock, and used to go bathing with Sir Launcelot (also of the Lake) and was thus a Bad Queen. (11)
With Edward the Confessor perished the last English King (viz. Edward the Confessor), since he was succeeded by Waves of Norman Kings (French), Tudors (Welsh), Stuarts (Scottish), and Hanoverians (German), not to mention the memorable Dutch King Williamanmary. (15)
The Norman Conquest was a Good Thing, as from this time onwards England stopped being conquered and thus was able to become top nation. (17)
The chapters between William I (1066) and the Tudors (Henry VIII, etc.) are always called the Middle Ages, on account of their coming at the beginning. (22)
About this time the memorable hero Robin Hood flourished in a romantic manner. Having been unjustly accused by two policemen in Richmond Park, he was condemned to be an outdoor and went and lived with a maid who was called Marion, and a band of Merrie Men, in Greenwood Forest, near Sherborne. Amongst his Merrie Men were Will Scarlet (The Scarlet Pimpernel), Black Beauty, White Melville, Little Red Riding Hood (probably an outdaughter of his) and the famous Friar Puck who used to sit in a cowslip and suck bees, thus becoming so fat that he declared he could put his girdle round the Earth. (27)
Richard II was only a boy at his accession; one day, however, suspecting that he was now twenty-one, he asked his uncle and, on learning that he was, mounted the throne himself and tried first being a Good King and then being a Bad King, without enjoying either very much; then, being told that he was unbalanced, he got off the throne again in despair, exclaiming gloomily, "For God's sake let me sit on the ground and tell bad stories about cabbages and things." Whereupon his cousin Lancaster (spelt Bolingbroke) quickly mounted the throne and said he was Henry IV, Part I. (43)
During this reign the Hundred Years War was brought to an end by Joan of Ark, a French descendant of Noah who after hearing Angel voices singing Do Re Mi became inspired, thus unfairly defeating the English in several battles. (47)
I thought it was an interesting read, definitely unique. But I can't say that I loved it or anything.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana said...

Interesting. I am kind of curious so I think I will hunt it out. :)

Alex said...

I have an original copy of this that I bought in a second hand book store in England years ago. I go back and read it every once in a while and it never ceases to make me laugh. But you are right, it isn't for everyone.