The Wake has been longlisted for the Man Booker prize 2014. Congratulations to Paul Kingsnorth, and thank you to everyone who pledged to make this project happen.
Everyone knows the date of the Battle of Hastings. Far fewer people know what happened next. Set in the three years after the Norman invasion of 1066, The Wake will tell the story of a fractured band of guerilla fighters who take up arms against the invaders. It is hung carefully on the known historical facts about the almost forgotten, decade-long war of underground resistance which spread across England in the decade after 1066.
It is a story of the collapse of certainties and lives; a tale of lost gods and haunted visions, narrated by a man of the Lincolnshire fens bearing witness to the end of his world.
More than three years ago, I began to write a historical novel which made me realise why I don’t read many historical novels. I couldn’t make the words fit, and I gradually began to see why: the language that we speak is so utterly specific to our time and place. Our assumptions, our politics, our worldview, our attitudes – all are implicit in our words, and what we do with them. In order to have any chance of this novel working, I realised I needed to imagine myself into the sheer strangeness of the past. I couldn’t do that by putting 21st century language into the mouths of eleventh-century people.
So I constructed, almost by accident, my own language: a middle ground between the Old English that would have been spoken by these characters and the English we speak today. The result is a book which is written in a tongue that no one has ever spoken, but which is intended to project a ghost image of the speech patterns of a long-dead land: a place at once alien and familiar. Another world, the foundations of our own.
The Wake has taken me nearly four years to write, a journey that has seen me poring over journals in the Bodleian library, sleeping out in the fens, wandering through ancient woodlands, gazing at the Bayeux Tapestry and the Staffordshire Hoard, and spending far too much time immersed in Old English dictionaries. The result is a book which is unlike anything I’ve ever written before.
I can’t promise you an easy bedtime read. But if you do fund me, you will receive something unique. Something which I hope will haunt your imagination long after you put it down.
the night was clere though i slept i seen it. though i slept i seen the calm hierde naht only the still. when i gan down to sleep all was clere in the land and my dreams was full of stillness but my dreams did not cepe me still
when i woc in the mergen all was blaec though the night had gan and all wolde be blaec after and for all time. a great wind had cum in the night and all was blown then and broc. none had thought a wind lic this colde cum for all was blithe lifan as they always had and who will hiere the gleoman when the tales he tells is blaec who locs at the heofon if it brings him regn who locs in the mere when there seems no end to its deopness
none will loc but the wind will cum. the wind cares not for the hopes of men
the times after will be for them who seen the cuman
the times after will be for the waecend
who is thu
who is thu i can not cnaw
what is angland to thu what is left of angland
i spec i spec i spec
no man lystans
This book has 9 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars.
This book is now published. If you pledge now you still will receive your ebook or beautiful limited edition copy, but you won't get listed as a supporter in the back.
e-book edition, access to the authors’ shed and your name in the back of the book
Special coptic stitched hardback plus a day out for 2 to join Paul’s guided tour of Senlac Hill and the site of the Battle of Hastings (Picnic included).
A deluxe limited edition of the text, beautifully printed on 175gsm laid paper and bound in traditional Dark Ages fashion. Only 20 available. Read more here