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Hodd by Adam Thorpe
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Hodd (2009)

by Adam Thorpe

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Wonderful re-imagining of the dark side of the medieval world.
  FionaTW | Apr 18, 2017 |
I have made a habit of picking up Thorpe’s novels when I see them in charity shops and I’m not entirely sure why. True, Ulverton was very good indeed – an English village’s history described through a variety of narrative forms – but the collection Shifts was, to be honest, a bit dull. But I have three or four of his books, and I grabbed this one to read over Christmas. Which I did. I knew it was about Robin Hood, a legendary figure I feel somewhat protective toward, given that I was born in Mansfield, which was once within the precincts of Sherwood Forest (in fact, there’s a plaque in Mansfield which declares the “dead centre” of Sherwood Forest was once at that spot). On the other hand, I’m well aware that Robin Hood is as real an historical figure as Jesus Christ. And, much as I love the 1938 Technicolor movie The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn in the title role, I know it has as much connection to real actual history as the Bible does – ie, none. Hodd is fiction, and clearly presented as fiction… but it’s also yet another version of Robin Hood. In this case, he’s a heretic who lives in the woods north of Doncaster, and his story is told as a manuscript, found by a British officer in a bombed-out church in Belgium during WWII, written by a ninety-year-old monk who was once “Much the Miller’s son” in Hodd’s band. It’s very cleverly done. There are footnotes by the officer who translated the manuscript, which explain some of the lesser known facts about mediaeval life (and also feature some editorial comments by him). The plot will come as no surprise to those who know the Hood legend, even if it’s only from the Flynn movie, and while Thorpe’s recasting of Hood as Hodd doesn’t seem to asdd all that much to the story, the way the story is presented definitely does. It put Thorpe back in my, so to speak, good books. Hodd is a clever and convincing historical palimpsest of a novel, and it’s a joy to see how well it is put together. Recommended. ( )
  iansales | Jan 22, 2017 |
I'm not sure the WWI footnotes really work
  annesadleir | Feb 1, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0224079433, Hardcover)

Good guy or bad guy? A medieval document casts doubt on our pre-conceptions about a medieval folk hero and legend.

Who was Robin Hood? Romantic legend casts him as outlaw, archer, and hero of the people, living in Sherwood Forest with Friar Tuck, Little John and Maid Marian, stealing from the rich to give to the poor — but there is no historical proof to back this up. The early ballads portray a quite different figure: impulsive, violent, vengeful, with no concern for the needy, no merry band, and no Maid Marian.

Hodd provides a possible answer in the form of a medieval document rescued from a ruined church on the Somme. The testimony of the monk Matthew describes life with the half-crazed bandit Hodd in the greenwood. Following the thirteenth-century principles of the “heresy of the Free Spirit,” he believed himself above God and beyond sin. Hodd and his crimes would have been forgotten without Matthew’s minstrel skills, and it is the old monk’s cruel fate to know that not only has he given himself up to apostasy and shame, but that his ballads were responsible for turning the murderous felon Robert Hodd into the most popular outlaw hero and folk legend of England, Robin Hood.

Written with his characteristic depth and subtlety, his sure understanding of folklore and precise command of detail, Adam Thorpe’s ninth novel is both a thrilling re-examination of myth and a moving reminder of how human innocence and frailty fix and harden into history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:12 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Adam Thorpe's ninth novel is both a thrilling re-examination of myth and a moving reminder of how human innocence and frailty fix and harden into history.

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