My Happy Moments

New year!

Dear all,

It has been quite some time since you’ve last heard of me, and I’m truly sorry for that. However, the end of a year brings some (maybe) good news: I’ll be more active in 2018!

Not that it’s even possible for me to be any less active in 2018 haha but I think you guys get the picture. I cannot promise to read a certain amount of books per month, and I’m definitely not going to, but I can promise that there will be regular posts on series, some books, and mostly study related things.

It has been about half a study year now since I started the Archaeology bachelor next to my English bachelor and it has been amazing. There are so many new things to learn, things to discover, and in my opinion there should be a little more interdisciplinary work :’) But most importantly: I’ve learned so much and I’m having a blast!
This time off has given me the space to see whether I could do all I wanted and maybe more, and it seems more than possible to me ^_^

Now, enough about me.

Folks, I wish you an amazing new year!
Some of you might be at some huge party, other quietly sitting in the living room with a book, or together with family. No matter where you are, no matter what you’re going to do: may 2018 be a favourable year for all of you, filled with wonder, amazing opportunities, and just downright amazing things!



Geen categorie

Changes are coming

Dear all,

As some of you might have noticed; I’ve not posted any reviews lately. That’s simply because I couldn’t find the time to read anything this summer.
This got me thinking. I will not be able to do a lot of regular reading in the next couple of months and perhaps even years, since I’ll be a lot more busy with my studies (and work) than before. Another thing I’ve noticed lately is that I’m growing more interested in posting study related posts. Why? It’s simply because I’m interested in the topics, and I want to share what I learn during my studies.

This is why I’ve decided to change my blog a bit. I’ve yet to decide what I want my blog to look like, but it is a 100% certain that I will focus on study related content rather than book reviews. I will still post reviews whenever I read a book, however, it will no longer be my focus point. Have no fear! I will not abandon the bookish community altogether! I’ll just be less active.

Thanks for still hanging around my blog ^_^  I hope you’ll keep on visiting My Book File because, even though there will be less book reviews, the content will always be related to books one way or another 🙂

Best wishes and lots of love,


My Happy Moments

The Sword, the Story, and some pictures

In my previous post I promised to try and see if I could find some pictures of the whole sword fighting thing. Well, this is where you’ll get to see some pictures ^_^ (and get a background story, of course).

Here goes:

about a year ago I was talking to an old work friend of mine and he told me that sword fighting (or Historical European Martial Arts) was actually a thing. So, obviously, I decided to give it a shot and I loved it. From that moment on, everything went quite fast. I started in September, got my own sword in December (birthday present woopwoop), and finally got a shield, and mask, last February. After getting all that, I looked like this:

sword1  and this –> sword2

(there was a person without a mask where the boom is :’) a creative way of Photoshop… right?)

And then, things started to escalate quickly and I bought the rest that I have now. Basically it’s new shinguards, a fancy jacket and some fancy pants. This results in me looking like the black little thin in the next picture:


I look awesome! Also, the blue arrow point to where I hold my sword and the red arrow point to where my enemy (nah he’s a good guy) walks into the point of my sword… It’s amazing!




And then there is me trying to do other stuff with a long sword. Resulting in getting my ass kicked by this awesome woman who had the patience to try and teach me how to hold, and use, this massive thing :’)

longsword1 awesome vs ass-kickedasskicked1

That’s it folks! The sword, the story, some pictures, and some awesome people!

My Happy Moments

My Happy Moment #6

My Happy Moments

Hello everyone!

It’s time for another post about my happy moments in life.

About a month ago I officially entered my summer break (there are still roughly 5 weeks of ‘summer break’ ahead of me so let’s consider it a fairly long break). Since then, a ton of things happened! No, of course nothing happened. Basically all I’ve been doing is working, netflix & chill, trying to read a lot of books but failing miserably (and buying more books while doing this).

But, luckily for me, nice things have happened too! For example; I’ve finished my second year at Uni (huzzah), finally bought enough gear so that I am able to practise sword fighting without worrying about breaking any bones, and I’ve started driving again! Next to that I’ve also decided to start Archaeology next year! Do the amazing things ever stop? Of course not! I’ve also bought a ticket for Castlefest (those of you who have no clue what Castlefest is, click this link), and I’m planning on making my own costume! (whether this is actually going to happen remains to be seen).
Also, I’m going to be on the board of my sword fighting association. How awesome is that?! (I’ve even created a blog section on the website :’) seems like I can’t escape it haha).

I’ve even tried to learn a little of Japanese, though its a lot tougher than I thought it would be!

In short: my ‘summer break’ has been great so far ^_^ How are you guys doing? Did anything amazing happen to you lately? Let me know in the comment section below!


Highlights of Medieval English Literature #2

Highlights of ME lit

Hi there and welcome to Highlight of Medieval English Literature (part 2)!

Part 1 was about literature from the 12th, 13th and 14th century CE.

This time I’m going to talk about the following three points:

  • 15th-century Literature and Medieval Romance
  • West Midland dialect
  • Middle English Lyrics

For this post I’ll also keep to the schedule I had for my tutorials. The texts and other extras are also the ones that were discussed during my tutorials. Additional sources will be mentioned in the texts, optional citations will come at the end if the post. If I find any other helpful sources I will either give the link to the website or cite the source at the end of the post.
I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on the subject. If you think I made an error somewhere in this post, please leave a comment and I’ll gladly correct my mistake.

15th-century Literature

An example of 15th-century literature we discussed in class was Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory.
One can safely assume that Le Morte d’Arthur is a romance. However, the definition of romance is not that clear cut. Siân Echard’s article helps with this, stating that romance is ” a recognition of non‐English origins, a name for works whose origins are en romanz; that is, in the romance languages which developed from Vulgar Latin. […] many […] English romances are adaptations or translations from French originals, and many vernacular chronicles in both French and English, themselves a ground for romance, depend on Latin material” (Echard 160). This doesn’t make in any easier to make a definition of a romance. (Echard gives more information including language, audience, place, politics, and more. It’s really worth to look at the article if you have access).
The difficulty in creating an exact definition of romance is due to it being a wide ranging genre in general. Melissa Furrow states that it was a long standing given in literary studies that manuscripts or texts, in general, would be seen as romance only when they were put in A Manual of Writings in Middle English 1050-1500 (43). This notion is now seen as wanting, and Expectations of Romance searches for the correct approach to define this broad genre. It is clear that romance cannot be determined by using an exclusion system, as is argued by Furrow (44). If this system would be used by contemporary scholars, some books would no longer fit into the romance genre, while the contemporaries would have regarded it as such, and vice versa (44). Furrow discusses the idea of a Venn diagram (48) in which the romance circle would be large, and surrounded by smaller circles representing other genres that have certain elements in common with romance. Using this diagram to demonstrate the capacity of this genre can result in an overlap. This can be a problem on several levels, for instance when opting to form a complete definition of the genre causing a text to actually belong to several genres. The genre is then determined depending on the signals of scope, narrative shape and focus (Furrow 48-49). After more research on the genre, several common elements of romance can be identified. First of all, romances concern themselves with sexuality, but this is connected to cultural and spiritual ideals (Furrow 50). Secondly, characters are often involved with the secular court (Gaunt 47), follow an ideal (Gaunt 57), and can become separated and reunited in the story (David Salter 30). Thirdly, there’s often a knight, the hero of chivalry, who has a tendency to be passive and to be guided by a higher power (Salter 30). The texts are generally about the legendary or extraordinary adventures (quests) of these knights (“romance” OED). (Note that extraordinary elements are also often present in romances). The last important feature of a romance is what Stephen Greenblatt (a.k.a the Norton Anthology) refers to as “the comic mode: [it] involves a happy ending in which justice is done, the ravages of time are arrested, and that which is lost is found” (A13). From the previous statement can also be derived that romance can be seen as an overarching genre which has changed through time by people’s perception of it. This can be illustrated by saying that a play as we know it from Shakespeare’s time would never have been categorised as a romance in the 14th century. Another example is prose. A romance in prose would never have categorised as such in the early days of the genre. Due to romance being a broad term, it makes it almost impossible to come up with a short definition or list of common features which accounts for each and every manuscript that is seen as romance today, and was seen as such during to time of composition.

There is not much known about the author of Le Morte D’Arthur, except that he was called Thomas Malory, that he was a knight and maybe a prisoner at the time. He finished the 9th book in 1470 CE. We discussed this version of the story about King Arthur because it’s the text with the most influence in contemporary adaptations of the story. (Click here and you’ll be redirected to a website with the version of Malory). Earlier versions of the King Arthur story are written by Cretien du Troyes, and Geoffrey of Monmouth. Of course, there were a lot of other poems and texts about Arthur, but these are just two of the bigger names.
Another poem (Gododdin, Welsh) was written around 600 CE in which the hero was not Arthur (so people must have been familiar with the story even then).
Within Le Morte d’Arthur there is also some sort of reference to ‘a French book’. However, the difference between the two works is that Malory is considerably (and consistently) more positive about Arthur as a person in his work than the French book was. This makes Arthur even more worthy of looking up to. Not only is he a just king etc, but he is also a good person who isn’t lead by the feeling of revenge.

Bonus: another 15th-century text; Margery Kempe

Yeeeeeeey, how I love surprises! (Or maybe it’s just because I might have almost forgotten about The Book of Margery Kempe. I should be ashamed…).

An illuminationThe Book of Margery Kempe was ‘written’ by Margery Kempe (shocker). Lynn Staley writes this about the book in her introduction (see the citation for source): “Kempe examines the fundamental conflicts and tensions of that world by describing Margery’s gradual and voluntary movement away from worldly prestige. Margery’s disengagement from conventional female roles and duties — and consequently her daring rejection of the values of her fellow townspersons — is a response to her growing commitment to her spiritual vocation. Her attempt to gain personal, financial, and spiritual autonomy is a tale of radical reversal that touches us on many different levels. Margery does what very few are able finally to do, and the fact that she does so as a woman enhances the force of her story — she breaks away.” (The rest of the introduction offers a sort of summary, information on the way of writing, the manuscript, and the author). Fun fact: the entire manuscript was found about 1934 CE.

Interestingly, this book can be seen an early autobiography and an example of affective piety (meaning that the body actually reacts to the divine). Furthermore, this text helps the reader to discover how people at the time would have looked towards certain religious movements (like the Lollards), or any kind of religious misbehaviour, and how one would have reacted to a woman like Margery Kempe.
The book is said to be an autobiography (because there is some authorship and it is her life’s story), however, there is more evidence to support that it is not. One of the most important arguments for this is the fact that it was never seen as an autobiography at the time. Other arguments are that it was not physically written down by her (she couldn’t write), it was written in the third person, and it is more about feeling and emotions rather than events. This manner of narration makes the book less criticised or at least ‘safer’. It was a man who wrote her story down, which gave the narrative more authority, and thus she distances herself from it. Connected to the fact that another writes down the story is the 2 miracles happen during the composition which makes the book ‘divine’. The book was also introduced as educational for religious purposes. There are also several sets of comments in the manuscript which respond to Margery’s character and create a new chronological order. (More on the comments see Staley’s introduction).

West Midland Dialect

The reasons why I put this in here is the fact that some of the earlier poems that I discussed in the previous post were written in the west midland dialect. So, here are some aspects of the dialect to make those manuscripts a little easier to read:

  • it’s a conservative dialect with many Norman influences which were wholly adopted into the colloquial.
  • key features of the spelling:
    • v instead of f
    • short u instead of i
    • u instead of ou
  • verb endings are reduced

For more on the west midland dialect look at Hasenfratz’s introduction from header ‘spelling’ and onwards.

Middle English Lyrics

Middle English lyrics are short (sometimes very short) poems written in the 13th, 14th, and some in the 15th century CE, in which one theme (love, nature, or religion) is in focus. It has a rhyming structure and within the poem itself, there is no room for individual expression (only general). There are around 2000 different lyrics preserved in about 450 manuscripts and most have no known author.
Lyric poetry can be about religious or secular themes (even a combination of both). It becomes a mixture of both when the author discusses a religious theme, but also talks about secular themes in order to make the church jargon relatable (or at the least recognisable). It is true that more religious lyrics have been preserved, but that doesn’t mean that there were no secular lyrics. Since texts, and also poems, were written by the clergy and thus those lyrics might not have been preserved.

Bonus (again?! Yes): Manuscript Culture

Stephen G. Nichols writes an informative piece on manuscript culture. He states that manuscripts are seen as artefacts, but scholars do not appear to register the importance of these documents in shaping the culture of their time, they are archaic precursors of the printed documents (34). The idea that they are primitive is because of three reasons: 1. they’re handwritten, so every manuscript is unique, 2. they lack uniformity and thus accuracy, and 3. the manuscript isn’t necessarily the same as the original (the author’s original intention) (34). Because manuscripts were handwritten and copied by scribes, it is logical to assume that they would end up doing more than just copying. It was not even expected from them not to leave their mark on their copy (35). Therefore philologists wrote critical copies, attempting to restore the original of the author and so ignoring all elements that make a manuscript (illuminations, commentaries, margins etc) (35). Manuscripts differ from printed sources in many ways and so people can only understand the importance of the manuscript when one realises how they differ from printed sources.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor medieval scriptoriumWhile at first manuscripts were copied in monasteries in a scriptorium (the image we all know and love), manuscripts would also be copied in workshops in city centres from the 13th century onwards (35). “This means that manuscript books were products of an urban microculture where every aspect of the production was carried out by artisans living in the same or nearby streets”(36).
All the non-textual components create a different reception and perception per manuscript (since manuscripts are all unique) because manuscripts situate their text in contemporary history (36). In a way, this makes manuscript culture a way of representing the world in accord with the contemporary perception, which creates the opportunity for ‘history’ to support current belief (37).  All the non-textual elements within the manuscripts were originally meant to an active participation on the reader’s part, these non-textual elements contribute to the meaning of the whole.

Now that we know this, let’s quickly discuss an example of the importance of manuscript context with the lyrics. It is true that some manuscripts are put together just because it could be done. However, some manuscripts have been compiled deliberately, such as Cambridge, Trinity College B. 14.39. No, no fancy illuminations. But there are more than a 140 religious and didactic texts in here, together with more secular texts which can indicate the importance of religious and didactic texts (for either the compiler, the client, or the time period). This proves that the context, in means of compilation, also belongs to the non-textual components of a manuscript.

Works Cited

Echard, Siân. “Insular Romance,” The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English, ed. E. M. Treharne and Greg Walker, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, 160-179.

Furrow, Melissa. “The Name and the Genre.” Expectations of Romance: The Reception of a Genre in Medieval England. Boydell & Brewer, 2009. 43-94.

Gaunt, Simon. “Romance and Other Genres.” The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Romance. Ed. Roberta L. Krueger. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 45-59.

Greenblatt, Stephen, gen. ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Vol. A. New York: Norton, 2012. 142, A1-A26.

Hasenfratz, Robert. “Introduction” in Ancrene Wisse, Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2000

Nichols, Stephen G. “What is a Manuscript Culture? Technologies of the Manuscript Matrix,” The Medieval Manuscript Book: Cultural Approaches, ed. Michael Johnston and Michael Van Dussen Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015, 34-40.

“romance, n. and adj.1.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2017.

Salter, David. “Kinds of Romance”. The Edinburg Introduction to Studying English Literature. Ed. Dermot Cavenaugh, et al. 2nd Ed, Edinburg University Press, 2014. 25-34.

Staley, Lynn The Book of Margery Kempe: Introduction’ The Book of Margery Kempe, Kalamazoo, Medieval Institute Publications, 1996.

Image Sources:


Margery Kempe


This was the second and last post. I hope it was informative and, as usual, if you have any feedback or something nice to say; leave your thoughts in the comment section below ^_^


Highlights of Medieval English Literature #1

Highlights of ME lit

Hello there!  🙂

This post will be about some works of Medieval English Literature. The period in this post in from 1066 until the end of the middle ages (why not middle ages before 1066? I kinda forgot to write a summary about that in the first part of the semester… that info is no longer relevant for the coming exam and thus that part will appear somewhere in the summer holiday… I hope :D).

Continue reading “Highlights of Medieval English Literature #1”