Imagining the Pagan Past explores stories of Britain’s pagan history. These tales have been characterised by gods and fairies, folklore and magic. They have had an uncomfortable relationship with the scholarly world; often being seen as historically dubious, self-indulgent romance and, worse, encouraging tribal and nationalistic feelings or challenging church and state.
This book shows how important these stories are to the history of British culture, taking the reader on a lively tour from prehistory to the present. From the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century, Marion Gibson explores the ways in which British pagan gods and goddesses have been represented in poetry, novels, plays, chronicles, scientific and scholarly writing. From Geoffrey of Monmouth to Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare to Seamus Heaney and H.G. Wells to Naomi Mitchison it explores Romano-British, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon deities and fictions. The result is a comprehensive picture of the ways in which writers have peopled the British pagan pantheons throughout history.
Imagining the Pagan Past will be essential reading for all those interested in the history of paganism.
Table of Contents
1. Breaking the Pagan Silence 2. ‘Gods of every shape and size’ 3. Something Old, Something New 4. ‘I wonder what Wotan will say to me’ 5. New Ages 6. ‘Find Me in Your Own Time’
"This is a work of importance to historians, literary critics and experts in cultural studies alike. It covers a span of one and a half millennia of British writing with equal sureness of touch and equal freshness of style, throwing out new insights in every chapter and delivering major overall perspectives on the British relationship with paganism." - Ronald Hutton, University of Bristol, UK