Posted 20 hours ago

Cuddy: Winner of the 2023 Goldsmiths Prize

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Telling the story of Saint Cuthbert and Durham Cathedral over the period of a thousand years, the author takes full advantage of all styles of writing be it poetry, prose , play script and the use of historical quotations.

I found it a little hard to get going with reading this as the mix of styles and forms used to move through the vast period of history covered in this retelling of the story and legacy of Saint Cuthbert from Lindisfarne to Dunhelm and Durham of today, was challenging- the last section is largely contemporary and very touching, and caused me to go back and re-read the earlier sections, and realise what an amazing success this book is - intentionally fitting form to content over the centuries. Ediva is alive to the rhythms of the landscape in a way that marks her out as different; she also sees visions of the future cathedral – a building “bigger than anything man has ever built, so big it rears up like a mountain, like a great beast” – where the saint will finally be laid to rest.It's about centuries ticking past and how stories are told and passed down, how mystical the human experience really is. The voice of the saint remains with us throughout, there to receive the prayers of those who believe in his legend and longevity.

The stories we tell one another are all that shall remain when time dies and even the strongest sculpted stones crumple to sand. So much so that in one short section that is presented to us as a play, the cathedral has a speaking part.When is historical inquiry illuminating, and are there times one should simply "let his story lie" undisturbed? Cuthbert was first buried on Lindisfarne, an island off the Northumbrian coast and scene of the first Viking raid on England. Myers is particularly fascinated by the journey of self-discovery that is the birthright of each person. Once again Ben Myers has built another time machine in words and I thoroughly enjoyed being humped around early medieval northern England alongside St Cuthbert's holy corpse via centuries of fisticuffs and up Durham Cathedrals tower to a sensitive take on issues of our own time.

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