Much – probably most – modern creative work deploys the rural as emblematic of the fragile world which man has wounded. I want to map some of this rural declinism, and counter it. In this it follows traits and tropes which have dominated countryside writing for millenia. More »
Posts under ‘On books’
RDN on books, fiction and non-fiction, old and new. I have often also reviewed at the Social Affairs Unit website.
The countryside is the repository of people’s dreams. It is the canvas on which they paint their fantasies. In this piece, I look at the way I do it. More »
This is the famous insignia of the 79th Armoured Division. It seems very likely that, like the 79th itself, it was designed by General Percy Hobart (Sir Percy, as he became). If so, he was as creative with a pencil as with his military planning. He was certainly close friends with writers and artists, including Eric Kennington, one of the best war artists of WW1 and WW2.
For more on this story, see below…
Stanley North, by then calling himself Stanley Kennedy North, in recognition of his marriage to Helen Kennedy, illustrated and (presumably) produced this marvellous little book, Mr North’s Maggot (so called after a folk dance formulation). It is dedicated to Helen and has a foreword by Cecil Sharp, the great revivalist (and preserver) of the form and founder of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
Here are two galleries of SKN’s Maggot. The first has smallish images and alterates the illustrations with related scraps of lyric:
The second has larger, cropped images, and text and illustrations are unsorted:
Sometime during the autumn of 1914 (I am presuming), my grandfather, Stanley North produced these marvellous images to illustrate Geoffrey Whitworth’s “Child’s ABC of the War”. It was in the spirit of much of the artistic and literary response to the declaration of war.
Here is a gallery of the complete work…
This is a very fine book, and well merits the comparison with the writing of Penelope Fitzgerald, which Adam Mars-Jones drew in his Observer review. It’s a comparison as to both classiness and type, and I hadn’t made it, which was dumb of me, since I have been reading and loving Fitzgerald.. More »
I meant ages ago to write a note about Michael J Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy. I read it with mounting irritation and wanted just to mark people’s cards as best I could as to what to watch out for when they come to it…. More »
As part of my serendipitous reading saga, I am actively pursuing what might be called Levant studies, not least with the goal of a visit to Israel. I am hoovering up useful travel and history commentaries on the region, and am hugely glad to have come across the remarkable Ian Strathcarron’s valuable account of a journey he made in 2011 to recreate a journey made to The Holy Land by Mark Twain in 1867. More »
I am working on portraits of various modern warriors, starting with memoirs by people who fought in WW1 or WW2, or – importantly – both. Two such strike me as breath-taking. They are accounts of the young pilots of the beginning of WW2. More »
Posted by RDN under On books on 3 February 2014. No comments.
I have disagreed with most of what I have read of Alain de Botton’s work over the years and am not likely to read his latest, The News: A user’s manual. In case you do, here is my take on what I understand him to be saying, so you can judge for yourself. In other words, here’s a user’s manual to his book. More »