Learning history through well-told stories

posted in: pedagogical | 2

In Elementary Lessons we just finished reading M.B. Synge’s The Awakening of Europe, the middle book in her series on English history written in 1903. I am so glad I picked this one as the one to read aloud! It was an absolute pleasure to read aloud.

History stories deserve strong prose.

This section is from The Awakening of Europe in the chapter on Bonny Prince Charlie’s attempt to seize the throne through Scotland.

All that courage and despair could do was done. There was the howl of the Highland advance, the scream of the onset, the thunder of musketry, the din of trumpet and drum, the flash of firearms, the glitter of broadswords. And then came the end. The battle was over as rapidly as all other Highland conflicts. Soon, very soon, the Highland force was fleeing from the field, away from the field of Culloden, never to be banded more in the hopeless cause of the Stuarts.

I am fond of alliteration, especially when woven into prose, and Synge seems to have a natural alliterative bent. Even for myself, who does not like reading aloud, I did enjoy reading this book aloud and am glad there are two more books to follow up with.

My Book Bag

I am loving Beowulf, but that’s so surprise. It would be a great one to read aloud. Like I said, I love alliteration, and it is plain Wilson does too (but I already knew that).

We bailed on The Periodic Kingdom; though it was a good conceit, it was dully executed and the evolutionary stance was so interwoven that I couldn’t edit on the fly while reading it aloud. I also quit halfway through Marshmallow Test because it was too condescending and redundant.

As Francis Bacon said,

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.

Get more great quotes & recommendations at ladydusk’s Wednesday with Words!

2 Responses

  1. ladydusk
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    That first sentence with its ‘courage and despair’ resonated. What would generally be seen as opposing ideas fit together to do what was to be done. Thanks!

  2. Celeste
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    I’m thinking about that Bacon quote at the end. I am such a sucker for reading about reading–I’ll have to dig more and see what precisely he was referring to.

    Had to laugh at “Whim: To Be Determined.” That’s just what whim should be, isn’t it. :)