Radio
3:31 pm
Sun November 24, 2013

Shedding Light Into the Dark

A lively, witting and very educational look at an overlooked and misunderstood era.
A lively, witting and very educational look at an overlooked and misunderstood era.
Credit athenalearning.com

When we are first exposed to educational topics that excite and stimulate our minds, the manner with which the information is delivered becomes the template for future learning.

What do I mean? My preference is British.

But, more than British, it must have a glorious British narrator who has gravitas-a certain weight and authority to their delivery and personality. For example, James Galway's marvelous music history series, Music in Time, had the sparkling Irish charm, but the narrator was a British historian whose voice spoke of deep authority. That's my quirk and I have to live with it.

Host Waldemar Januszczak's down-to-earth, almost satiric style takes a bit of an adjustment. From the pointed hair to the use of contemporary slang, Januszczak (a Brit by way of Poland) can come off as trying too hard to reach a younger audience. For example, describing the barbarians' jewelry as "bling." 

Still, this is a wonderful exploration of an age that has a terrible moniker that implies it was an age of ignorance. I recall trying to research this era's art and being told by a librarian that there were "many books on Renaissance art." This is a real attitude embraced by even the most educated among us. Truly sad.

The so-called Dark Ages is a lively age of art that speaks of a vitality, an exquisite artistic capability and has a way of getting communicating its mystic message across the ages.

Delightful bits that we learn:

  • the rotas square
  • the secret signs of Christianity
  • the sources of the many images of Christ
  • the humble beginnings of the Christian church
  • barbarian is a misleading term and their culture/art is exquisite

Your light-hearted host, Waldemar Januszczak, dispelling that stupid Viking myth.
Your light-hearted host, Waldemar Januszczak, dispelling that stupid Viking myth.
Credit athenalearning.com

We learn that the horned Viking helmet was a 19th century opera costume invention and had nothing to do with the real Vikings.

This set had two discs and has four episodes. I liked them all, although I did not really care about episode three which presented Islamic architecture (although the intricate decorations are incredible).

Overall, we learn quite a bit about this mysterious age and the host is very engaging.

Buy it at Amazon.

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