Well first I caught up with this classic from 1950 which it happened I’ve never read before. In these healthandsafety days it is extraordinary how they just fired themselves off into the vast blue with an untried craft and a vague theory. I’m glad they didn’t drown.
Then there was this discussion about why Alfred achieved his mythic status when others didn’t (and why Arthur became even more mythic on even less evidence). Given Horspool’s contention that the real king was very separate from the symbolic hero, I thought perhaps he could have called his historical guy Ælfred, which would be the authentic spelling and would remind readers he was not talking about Alfred the Cake (except when he was).
I went on a Cook’s tour as part of the theology jag, which suffered from the usual problem: simplification leads to falsification. How do you pot hundreds of pages of theological subtlety into three pages? Not only that, but which theologians do you include in and out? Well written, and some delightful anecdotes to keep the attention. I still don’t know my Tillich from my Rahner without looking them up, but I’m getting a handle on Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa and Aquinas.
Not entirely sure how this one took up residence, as I am not a Holmes fan. This seems fairly faithful to the original in that after reading it I am still not a Holmes fan.
Like eating crisps, you keep reading just one more letter … and then one more. Between them the sisters seem to have met EVERYONE at some point. The most disturbing letters are of course Unity’s before her head injury, and Diana’s thereafter. The embedded antisemitism before the war must have been enormous to allow cultivated and intelligent people to blind themselves to the implications of the Nazi regime. I fear that Diana’s insistence on the charm and intelligence of the Nazi leaders was probably correct, though it caused such a fuss every time she said it after the war; unfortunately charm and intelligence can belong to horrible people. Lessons for our time? There’s also a subtext running through the book about witty writers being tempted into falsity and cruelty, because it allows them to write such good lines. The correspondence comprises an enormous pageturner of a family saga, with some descriptions of pure and blissful absurdity to sweeten it.
Moomins … all my copies are loved to bits like this one. They look cute, but have an arbitrariness and unpredictability which keeps them from the icky swamp. The Groke doesn’t crop up in this one, but the curious sacrifice of the shy Hemulen poses a question which I’d like to hear Anselm or Luther discuss.
The power of the clerihew. I can never hear of Sir Humphrey Davy without remembering that he detested gravy. Similarly, my only information about Heidegger is that he was a boozy beggar. I therefore chose this to establish some sense of the borderland between philosophy and theology. I found it difficult to identify what the expected readership for the volume was – intelligent fourteen-year-olds, perhaps. Where Hill and Warburton both summarise the same thinkers, it is sometimes difficult to believe they are talking about the same person. On the whole I felt that Warburton’s simplifications were cruder than those of Hill and I am definitely not getting embroiled with philosophy.
Last and not least, this curiosity. Written with what now comes over as a mixture of pomposity, facetiousness, and pedantry, it can never have been a best seller, although I notice that the Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum has a copy, and, bizarrely, there is some sort of print on demand version available via the web. Yes, I did enjoy it. Weirdly.
I’ve called a halt to the binge. Instead – the tricky business of trying to make a teeny weeny pelvis in clay. Long bones are fine though. There’s a project hatching for a local school ….
…. and another section of my library is being called into action.