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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.

Polite Modernism: Eric Parry & the Other Tradition

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On art / On books on 28 June 2017. No comments.

What Colin St John Wilson called “The Architecture of Invitation” or “The Other Tradition”, I call “Polite Modernism”. Its finest living exponent is Eric Parry, who is firmly in the CSJW tradition, both academic and creative. And now he has delivered what looks like an excellent successor to CSJW’s British Library, and Denys Lasdun’s Royal College of Physicians. Actually, his headquarters for the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers has a decent claim to be the ultimate in the genre so far.

After the fold, there’s an account of what Polite Modernism is, and how it fits into Brutalism and Modernism, and even post-modernism.

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Rural idylls: Sanctuary and decline

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On art / On books / Politics & campaigns on 22 December 2016. No comments.

Much – probably most – modern creative work deploys the rural  as emblematic of a glorious, simpler, greener world which man has wounded. In this it seems to follow traits and tropes which have dominated countryside writing for millenia. I argue that  actually, views of the rural scene have changed dramatically over the centuries, and in some case views have reversed their valency. (The wild used to be reviled, now it is revrred.)
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Rural idylls: RDN’s take on Arcadia

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On art / On books on 22 December 2016. No comments.

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 »

Hobo’s 79th Armoured Division insignia

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / On art / On books on 28 August 2014. No comments.

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.

The Bull's Head insignia of the 79th Armoured Division

The Bull’s Head insignia of the 79th Armoured Division

For more on this story, see below…

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Stanley Kennedy North folk dance book, 1921

Posted by RDN under On art / On books on 27 August 2014. No comments.

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:

  • SKN Folk front cover_thumb68
  • SKN Folk front cover
  • SKN Folk Confess_1
  • SKN Folk facing Confess_1
  • SKN Folk Constant Billy_2
  • SKN Folk facing Constant Billy_2
  • SKN Folk Earsdon Sword Dance_3
  • SKN Folk facing Earsdon Sword Dance_3
  • SKN Folk Gathering Peascods_4
  • SKN Folk facing Gathering Peascods_4
  • SKN Folk I Will Go And Enlist_5
  • SKN Folk facing I Will Go And Enlist_5
  • SKN Folk Kirkby Sword Dance_6
  • SKN Folk facing Kirkby Sword Dance_6
  • SKN Folk Oranges and Lemons_7
  • SKN Folk facing Oranges And Lemons_7
  • SKN Folk Parsons Farewell_8
  • SKN Folk facing Parsons Farewell_8
  • SKN Folk Picking Up Sticks_9
  • SKN Folk facing Picking Up Sticks_9
  • SKN Folk Rigs O Marlow_10
  • SKN Folk facing Rigs O Marlow_10
  • SKN Folk Shepherds Holday_11
  • SKN Folk facing Shepherds Holiday_11
  • SKN Folk The Rose_12
  • SKN Folk facing The Rose_12
  • SKN Folk Cecil Sharp foreword_21
  • SKN Folk Beamont & Hetcher_22
  • SKN Folk Helen dedication_23
  • SKN Folk Peacham note_24
  • SKN Folk reverse front cover_25
  • SKN Folk verso sheet_resize_20
  • SKN Folk back cover_19

The second has larger, cropped images, and text and illustrations are unsorted:

  • SKN Folk front cover_thumb21
  • SKN Folk facing Constant Billy_resize37
  • SKN Folk facing The Rose
  • SKN Folk front cover_thumb33
  • SKN Folk front cover24
  • SKN Folk facing Rigs O Marlow
  • SKN Folk facing Shepherds Holiday
  • SKN Folk facing Parsons Farewell49
  • SKN Folk facing Picking Up Sticks
  • SKN Folk facing Kirkby Sword Dance
  • SKN Folk facing Oranges And Lemons
  • SKN Folk facing Gathering Peascods
  • SKN Folk facing I Will Go And Enlist
  • SKN Folk facing Earsdon Sword Dance
  • SKN Folk facing Confess
  • SKN Folk facing Constant Billy
  • SKN Folk Earsdon Sword Dance
  • SKN Folk dedication
  • SKN Folk back cover
  • SKN Folk dedication reverse
  • SKN Folk Confess
  • SKN Folk Gathering Peascods
  • SKN Folk I Will Go And Enlist
  • SKN Folk Kirkby Sword Dance
  • SKN Folk Oranges and Lemons
  • SKN Folk Parsons Farewell
  • SKN Folk Peacham note
  • SKN Folk Peacham note reverse
  • SKN Folk reverse front cover
  • SKN Folk reverse of facing Gathering Surely...
  • SKN Folk Picking Up Sticks
  • SKN Folk Rigs O Marlow
  • SKN Folk Shepherds Holday
  • SKN Folk The Rose
  • SKN Folk verso sheet

Stanley North WW1 “Child’s ABC”, 1914

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / On art / On books on 25 August 2014. No comments.

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…

  • SKN ABC T_thumbnail
  • SKN ABC A_resize
  • SKN ABC B_resize
  • SKN ABC C_resize
  • SKN ABC D2_resize
  • SKN ABC E_resize
  • SKN ABC F_resize
  • SKN ABC G_resize
  • SKN ABC H_resize
  • SKN ABC I_resize
  • SKN ABC J_resize
  • SKN ABC K_resize
  • SKN ABC L_resize
  • SKN ABC M_resize
  • SKN ABC N_resize
  • SKN ABC O_resize
  • SKN ABC P_resize
  • SKN ABC Q_resize
  • SKN ABC R_resize
  • SKN ABC S_resize
  • SKN ABC T_resize
  • SKN ABC U_resize
  • SKN ABC V_resize
  • SKN ABC W_resize
  • SKN ABC X_resize
  • SKN ABC Y_resize
  • SKN ABC Z_resize
  • SKN ABC cover_resize
  • SKN ABC dedication_resize
  • SKN ABC envoy Paul_resize
  • SKN ABC T_resize and cropped

Bernardine Bishop’s “Unexpected Lessons In Love”

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On books on 10 June 2014. No comments.

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 »

RDN on Michael J Sandel

Posted by RDN under Economic affairs / Mind & body / On books on 1 May 2014. One comment.

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 »

On Strathcarron on Twain on the Levant

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / On books on 4 April 2014. No comments.

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 »

1940: Poetic fighter pilots

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / On books on 22 February 2014. No comments.

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 »

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