Tuesday 21 June 2022

So - who is the Greatest Living Englishman Now?

Since the deaths of Geoffrey Ashe and then Gareth Knight earlier this year - I am scratching my head over who I should now regard as the Greatest Living Englishman? 

To qualify, a person (man or woman) would need to be broadly-within the Romantic Christian ideal - and his work should be 'about' England - or, more accurately, the mythic land of Albion. 

That is, he should contribute - through his work, mainly - to a romantic, spiritual and Christian awakening, revival, renewal of Albion. 

If I first exclude (because of my positive biases) the (English) members of the circle of bloggers of which I am a part - so I cannot propose William Wildblood, John Fitzgerald, Ama Bodenstein (or myself!) - likewise I exclude members of my family... Then, who is left? 

Jeremy Naydler is a strong candidate - but he does not focus much upon 'the matter of Britain'. Susanna Clarke is a possibility, since I regard Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as a work of genius, and it is exactly about Romantic Christian England; but I feel that more than a single work is required. 

So that leaves Terry Boardman as the outstanding possibility.

Does anyone agree? Or can readers think of someone else more worthy of the GLE mantle?  


Jonathan said...

I would say Paul Kingsnorth, since his conversion to Christianity he is having a very positive effect and a lot of his work is about England (his essay Real England, or his fiction trilogy which starts with the anti-Norman The Wake)

Wade McKenzie said...

Being an Oklahoman, I'm admittedly not very well positioned to assess the English scene. May I nonetheless be permitted to nominate Morrissey? I think he's a great lyricist and rock and roll singer, with an extraordinary personal presence--and one of the very few celebrities to have mounted, in his own way, a defense of British identity...

(Alternatively, I might advocate Bruce Charlton.)

In any case, Prof. Charlton, thank you for writing as you do, and for sharing your individual self and your ever-intriguing thoughts with us. May God bless you always.

Crosbie said...

If the Greatest Living Englishman were to join your circle, and prove to be less great than you imagined, wouldn't that create an awkward social tension? Perhaps the title of Greatest Living Englishman should always be awarded posthumously!

Wade McKenzie said...

Afraid I shot from the hip there, without carefully reading your piece beforehand, when I supplied the answer I did. You were seeking someone who fits the "Romantic Christian ideal". Obviously, Morrissey doesn't qualify. Please forgive the oversight.

William Wildblood said...

Perhaps in line with the thought that we now have to go it alone and not rely on any external authority, including church or leader of any kind, there is no obvious greatest living Englishman?

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Well, if we were talking about leaders, I would agree. But there is still potentially a role for good 'teachers', whose function is perhaps to speed-up the trial and error process of clarifying and developing one's own intuitions.

This is, of course, very personal - and my own favourite teachers have varied according to where I myself was, and what I most needed at a particular time.

As I have often said, I don't agree with much - or even *most* - of what even my-and-favourite main spiritual mentors expound; but the best of them have given me what I most needed, when I most needed it.

What I'm really saying here is that - of living people within the scope of the definitions above - probably Terry Boardman has given me most of what I most needed; and therefore is my GLE!

Others would presumably have different persons.