Farewell, Mr Grumpy

August 13, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Vidia Naipaul (17 August 1932 to 11 August 2018) V.S. Naipaul was a scratchy character (vide Paul Theroux’s “Sir Vidia’s Shadow“). He was wise enough to recognise his prejudices, but simply too lazy to conceal or deny them.  And that seems to us, in these days of haute moral posturing, of solid, enduring value, together with his legacy of fine, caustic, off-the-wall, bitter humour, most evident in his masterpiece, A House for Mr. Biswas.

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Tove Jansson

August 10, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, Classic Books, WRITING & LITERATURE |

August 9, 1914: On behalf of everyone who loves Moomintroll, Little My, Snufkin, Mymble, Muskrat, et al…to everyone who appreciates Tove’s statement that “what I liked best was being beastly to Hitler and Stalin,” TVC says Happy Birthday Tove! Of all the Moomintroll books, L likes Comet in Moominland the best.

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Izaac Walton – The Compleat Angler

August 9, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, LIFE, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Izaak Walton (born 9 August 1593) wrote one of the best goofing-off books ever.  First published in 1653, the full title was: The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative Man’s Recreation, divided into two parts: I, “Being a Discourse of Rivers, Fish-ponds, Fish and Fishing”; II, “Being Instructions how to Angle for a Trout or Grayling in a Clear Stream”. As Walton confessed in a preface, “…most Readers may receive so much pleasure or profit by it, as may make it worthy the time of their perusal, if they be not too grave or too busie men…I have in several places mixt…

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Watership Down by Richard Adams

Nuthanger Farm. Visited by the rabbits on their odyssey.

“Bright eyes, burning like fire…” O sorry, where were we?  I was lost in contemplation of the ugly film animation of this story – I don’t think that the term “bright eyes” appears at all in the classic children’s book. And these rabbits wouldn’t like the fire simile at all. The rabbits of Sandleford Warren have got to get out of there.  Led by intrepid Hazel and little Fiver (a seer, no less) a small but feisty party sets off for a new home which is way way too far off, across too many hazards.  On the way we learn that pet rabbits become lazy and dull, that to…

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The “loose, baggy monster” (Charles Dickens)

February 7, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, Fiction, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Charles Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) It is important to remember that many of Dickens’ books were serialised, hence their great bulk crept-up on the audience, so intent on the trees that they forgave the tangled, unstructured wood. Peter Ackroyd, in his massive (and borderline prurient) biography, noted that, in America for example, his readers “greeted the arrival of the latest sheets of The Old Curiosity Shop with cries of “Is Little Nell dead?””  It is all very well to be snobbish about Dickens – F.R. Leavis calling him a genius but only a genius as an ‘entertainer’…

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