By Ronald Blythe
Woven from the phrases of the population of a small Suffolk village within the 1960s, Akenfield is a masterpiece of twentieth-century English literature, a scrupulously saw and deeply affecting portrait of a spot and folks and a now vanished lifestyle. Ronald Blythe’s awesome publication increases enduring questions about the kin among reminiscence and modernity, nature and human nature, silence and speech.
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Extra info for Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village
I was then living at Debach, a tiny parish of some eighty souls which adjoined the larger village of Charsfield. I remember walking the ancient boundaries of flat-land Debach and hollow-land Chars-field on a grey winter’s day and thinking of the ritual toil which had engaged them, and thousands of villages like them, since those who settled them made the first field. All around were similar settlements with “field” names, so I called my book Akenfield after the oaks which stood in the field opposite my old house.
The townsman envies the villager his certainties and, in Britain, has always regarded urban life as just a temporary necessity. ” To accommodate the almost religious intensity of the regard for rural life in this country, and to placate the sense of guilt which so many people feel about not living on a village pattern, the post-war new towns have attempted to incorporate both city and village—with, on the whole, disheartening results. A number of such towns are spreading into East Anglia, arriving suddenly on the loamy flats where there never was habitation before, and claiming that they can offer the best of both worlds.
Mrs. I. Mrs. Carter-Edwardes, Samaritan 14. THE YOUNG MEN Terry Lloyd, pig-farmer Bruce Buckley and Thomas Dix Anthony Summer, shepherd Roger Adlard, factory farmer Derek Warren, ploughman 15. THE LAW Mrs. Christian Annersley, magistrate Persis Ede, odd-job man 16. LIMITATIONS Lana Webb 17. THE VET Dr Tim Swift 18. NOT BY BREAD ALONE The Poet 19. THE NORTHERN INVADERS Jamie McIver, farmer Duncan Campbell, sheep-farmer 20. IN THE HOUR OF DEATH William Russ, gravedigger INTRODUCTION First published in 1969, Ronald Blythe’s Akenfield is an enormously vivid and affecting portrait of life in one village in the southeast of England, as told through the voices of the farmers, workers, and villagers themselves.
Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village by Ronald Blythe