Kelten En De Lage Landen * Herman Clerinx (2005/6 davidsfonds * isbn 905826324X)

I know that this is something to say, but this is the ultimate beginners book on the Celts for a Dutch-speaking audience. However the title means “Celts and the Low Countries”, Clerinx gives a very nice introduction into the scientific fields that are involved in the subject of the Celts as a whole, the theories around the Indo-Europeans, different theories on the Celts and mostly appealing, he used the most recent investigations, theories and information, so this book is not only very elementary, but will also bring you up-to-date of the latest findings and theories. This is the story of the Celts, with as focus and starting point the Low Countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg). So here follows my first point of criticism. However many scholars have doubts about the Celts in the Netherlands (especially above ‘the great rivers’), Clerinx joyfully keeps talking about the Celtic tribes of this area (this subject itself is very interesting btw.). When you read the book (and read it carefully), the writer gives all the scholarly opinions and doubts about the Celts, but his preferance in the doubt is quite clear and his seems to prefer Celtic Low Countries over Germanic Low Countries (or in the worst part, inhabited by tribes of which is not totally clear if they were Celts of Teutons). No worries, just a thing to keep in the back of your head, but Celtophiles will especially love this book I guess. Then another point of criticism. The book is very readable, too readable sometimes, almost as if it was written for adolescents with a silly sence of humour sometimes. Also just a thing to keep in the back of your head. For the rest, in debt linguistic and archeologic information about the Celts, grey parts which go a bit deeper in some subjects, many photos and towards the end, Celtic mythology in a nutshell (an a little small nutshell…). Nicely critical towards scholars and popular theories (most of them at least), not afraid to say what we don’t know for sure, critical towards nowadays ‘Celtophilism’, but giving a very good basic idea of the subject in about 280 pages.

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