Books 2010

Books 2009

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Thursday, 19 February 2009


There are so many sly Edwardian felicities in Zuleika Dobson, one hardly knows where to start...picking a couple at random, the Duke of Dorset's family name, Tankerville-Tankerton, is pronounced "tavvy-tackton"...and Zuleika does not just set out for Cambridge, she dispatches her maid to Oxford Station with an instruction to the Stationmaster to prepare a private train. Wonderfully, archly, self-consciously over the top and quite preposterously funny.
And we should honour not just the heroic rowers of Beerbohm's era but also our modern crews and the renaissance of Magdalen rowing...since you and I went down, Lindsay...

I noticed that Jane Austen used a lot of French words in Northanger Abbey, mostly in the first half of the book. And so are you doing lately - what a coincidence(!)

It is not Max or the Duke that you should forgive for the defeat of Magdalen but the author of the book! This is fiction, not truth or history; the characters of the book are not responsible for what happens. Being a Powellite, you share the opposite opinion, I know that. I remember that we already discussed that topic. And I was reminded me of this sentence from Powell:
"Because a novel's invented, it is true."
The quotation is from this post:

That said, I notice that my mind is dangerously starting to "bagshawerize", I am afraid.

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  • Nothing is of greater consolation to the author of a novel than the disovery of readings he had not conceived but which are then prompted by his readers. (Umberto Eco, Reflections on The Name of the Rose)
  • ... relatively few persons in London ... can afford the luxury of one or more servants. No fewer than 3,700,000 have no servants at all, and of the half million that have servants 227,000 have only one. (The Times, 6 June 1895)
  • Standing among savage scenery, the hotel offers stupendous revelations. There is a French widow in every bedroom, affording delightful prospects. (Tyrolean inn brochure, according to Gerard Hoffnung)
  • (A doctor is at an elderly relative's deathbed) "The old sawbones, eh?" he bellowed ... "Just in the nick, perhaps. Haul the old girl back by the short hairs, if you ask me. Devilish smart at his work ... Always take a fence with more confidence when I know he's out with us."
  • Too often, when a man of Monty Godkin's mental powers is plunged in thought, nothing happens at all. The machinery just whirs for a while, and that is the end of it. (P G Wodehouse, Heavy Weather)
  • ...the breed that take their pleasures as Saint Laurence took his grid (Kipling, The Five nations)

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