‘The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England’, by Ian Mortimer – review

The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan EnglandThe Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

People tend to make an anachronistic mistake of assuming that their times are more culturally and socially superior to their previous generations’ times, whereas forty years on an evolutionary scale amounts to a million second on a twenty-four-hour clock, the amount so infinitesimal that it makes you smirk. What makes us set apart from the predecessors of our human civilization is not how they looked but how they looked at the landscapes surrounding their everyday lives, which led to the creation of the ethos of society peculiar to the different historical periods of time. This Thucydidean approach to history as a branch of social science as well as humanity strikes the chords with Ian Mortimer’s perspectives on his Elizabethan ancestors in his scintillating book, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England.

Rich in details and splendid in descriptions that successfully and naturally resurrect the period, Mortimer’s vividly atmospheric accounts of the era transform the people and the landscapes of Elizabethan England from one-dimensional textual elements to animated figures in his engagingly vivacious narrative that strut in the mind’s theater of the reader, commanding attention in every chapter in a way that looks virtually real, evoking a phantasmagorical display of the periodical images. Mortimer is a knowledgeable and witty guide well versed in the English Renaissance with a practical sense of reality, which makes him something of Dr. Who, who pitchforks his wide-eyed volunteer reader to the subject time and then materializes when the reader is in a pickle. He shows the reader both the beauty and the beast of the Elizabethan society at its core with his wealth of knowledge drawn upon extensive research on the period and general erudition without putting a supercilious air of a highly learned man and stands in awe with the reader of the cultural and social progresses of Elizabethan England that began to define the “Englishness,” with which we tend to associate when the name “England” chimes the bell of literature, religion, and geography, all in the collective image of being “English.” Mortimore does this wonderfully with his engaging narrative skills that will not make you bored and skip a page.

Mortimer as a literary Dr. Who aims to bring the gaps of time and space between the reader and the populace of Elizabethan England to elucidate his stance on the truth about unchanging human nature wrapt in a periodical costume; in fact, history is a branch of literature made by artificers and artists with stories full of events, persons, and places that are woven into a tapestry of time, which also reflects how we have become what we are. In light of this, Mortimer is a cross between Herodotus with his entertaining narrative skills and Thucydides with his objective analysis of the historicity of society and culture. At the end of the book, the reader will find William Shakespeare, one of the most notable figures of Elizabethan England, holding up “a mirror to Mankind and shows people what they really are.” This is a cracking read packed full of interesting tidbits on the ways of life in Elizabethan England which he relates with wonderfully lucid insights into the turbulent but magnificent era that marks an indelible landmark in the history of England, and ultimately, of the world.

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bewitched

18x10Van_Gogh_s_Wheat_Field_Crows

“Wheat Field” by Vincent Van Gogh

To write with an eager spirit summoned

On all the Consciousness there conjoined

And put a pen to paper in an expense of wills

On the visions and vagaries of mind’s eyes.

Author’s Notes: Writing is a solipsistic act of a self in an expense of a will, filling a page after page with eruptions of feelings, emotions, and thoughts. I strongly believe that our human faculty is rather instinctive than reasoning, rather physical than metaphysical. It’s a sovereign act of self will that yearns to manifest the buried hopes, anticipations, and desires that are denied to those whose existence in reality is invisible. I write for sheer egotism to let people know that I exist and for aesthetic pleasure to express the ecstasy of my soul when appreciating the beauty of arts. Therefore, I write and will continue to write despite my invisibility. 

on #ShakespeareSunday

Great works of geniuses are contemporary with their time and ours; they transcend a great divide of time and space across cultural and racial boundaries and apply the universality of objective truths to any era of our human civilization. That is why William Shakespeare, an Elizabethan workaday dramatist and poet who also acted on stage himself, is a Universal Writer whose works are still widely read, told, re-told, and reenacted that magically resurrect the time he lived that seemed remote yet surprisingly familiar. For Shakespeare is all about humanity that continues to appeal with his rhetorical utility. Hence, I participate in a weekly #ShakespeareSunday on Twitter with different themes as provided by the host. Last Sunday’s theme was ‘ITALY & TRAVEL,’ and this is my tweet that I want to share on my blog with my Readers whom I also encourage to do the same.

My essay published on the working class academics conference!

My Blog post about Working Class Academics Conference has been published on their website! I was asked to contribute my writing to their wonderful organization promoting the presence of academics with working-class backgrounds on Twitter two weeks ago. Although I am not even in the UK, I was flattered by their invitation. Here is my essay accompanied by the brilliant artwork by Dr. Peter Shukie himself, the founder of Working Class Academics Conference. Thank you very much!

Sylvanian troubadours

Nature is a free luxury spa for all without asking of you any identification card or permit to visit. It is a marvelous Carte Blanche given to us as our birthright gift from the greatest man above.

Nature is a spectacular cinema of what alchemists considered as the essential composition of the Universe, where Fire, Water, Earth, and Air create a symphony of Beauty unsullied by human artfulness. So much so that Lord Byron rhapsodized about this natural beauty thus: “There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.”

And that is what I and my band of Sylvanian troubadours saw and thought when we went hiking yesterday. We looked on beauty and saw it was purchased by the weight. What a wonderful world it was! Would it be the same feeling God was surged up with when he saw the world after his creation? I bet it was.