I'm going to take this blog off on a new tangent for a while this month--just to remind some of you that under this "Civil War author" persona lies an old medievalist. Last month Indiana University Press offered to return to me all the publishing rights for my very first book: The Dilemma of Arnulf of Lisieux: New Ideas versus Old Ideals
, originally published in 1990. At first, I couldn't imagine that anyone would care about a 22-year-old doctoral dissertation that had been out of print for some time. And then I got one of those wild hairs of an idea that sent me off in a new direction.
No one's ever heard of Arnulf, but he's a neat, quirky old geezer with some important lessons to teach us even today. And today's new publishing ventures just might be quirky enough to make room for him. So, after a couple of deep breaths (what the medieval world would call "girding my loins"), I sent the book off to CreateSpace, a print-on-demand publisher with the ability to photograph an old book and recreate an exact copy of the original -- except in a trade paper edition and a Kindle edition -- and at such a reasonable printing rate that the book can now be offered for a fraction of what it cost originally. They've now taken apart the original copies of the book and are in the process of scanning the pages. With luck I'll have new copies up on Amazon by the end of August.
Will it interest any of you? I'm guessing that it might. You see, despite the fact that Arnulf was a churchman living in France in the heart of the 12th-century, he had to deal with many of the same problems we face today. He was educated in traditional monastic environment, indoctrinated with the belief that the word of God should govern his life, a conservative who took joy in the way things had been done in the past. And he lived in the middle of a renaissance--a period of revolution, if you will, when new learning from the east clashed with the inherited truths of the west, new architectural styles took buildings soaring to unimaginable heights, and kings seemed bound and determined to fight with popes. If Arnulf came back to visit today, he would immediately understand the ideological differences currently stirring up controversies.
So while the book is being re-created, I'm going to introduce you to some of the issues that plagued the 12th century -- and to the cantankerous little man who fought with both sides because he couldn't get a foothold in either camp. You may even come to like him, as I did all those years ago.