Sybille Bedford is a glorious writer. She's alluringly readable, and the two novels I have read by her were instantly absorbing. Her prose exudes authority and intelligence, her novels charm, intrigue, persuade and convince. She is magnificent, and I don't understand why she has received so much less attention than, say, Elizabeth Bowen or Elizabeth … Continue reading Sybille Bedford, A Legacy
Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love (from the Really Like This Book podcast scripts catch-up) is not at all an obvious political novel. She excelled in, and is very famous for, her novels of the totally frivolous and madly eccentric lives of characters based loosely on her life and family. They’re all upper-class glamour and insouciance worn … Continue reading Domestic politics in Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love
Today’s letter in the Really Like This Book's podcast script rerun is M. A G Macdonell’s England, Their England, from 1933, is a satirical novel about English society, and has long had a grip on my understanding of the English. I was (am) a hybrid Anglo-Scot, never quite accepted by my Scottish school-friends or my English cousins … Continue reading A G Macdonell and England, Their England
This week's letter is C, and today’s author is Colette. Julie de Carneilhan was published in 1941, reprinted by Penguin in the 1950s in an English translation by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Apparently it was filmed in 1950, and in 1990. Leigh Fermor’s translation is over 60 years old now, as timeless as the novel itself, but also not modern; there’s … Continue reading The stratagems of aristocratic survival, in Colette’s Julie de Carneilhan
Mitfordians and class observers, be advised that Noblesse Oblige produced a sequel. That 1956 collection of essays edited by Nancy Mitford, subtitled ‘An Enquiry into the Identifiable Characteristics of the English Aristocracy’, spawned a sequel in 1969 called What Are U?, edited by her collaborator, Professor Alan Ross. Nancy Mitford's contributors were semi-serious and strongly literary, including John Betjeman and his immortal … Continue reading Noblesse Oblige 2: What Are U?