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Tony Grist

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Books [Jun. 9th, 2010|10:48 am]
Tony Grist

I dreamed I was moving house- and the removal men were at the door and I'd forgotten to pack my books- so there I was- with my female assistant- tumbling them off the shelves into bags, sacks, pillowcases- whatever was available.

I'm reading Citizens-  Simon Schama's history of the French Revolution. It's awfully good. If a fictional narrative starts to cough and splutter all the writer has to do- according to Raymond Chandler- is have a man come through the door with a gun- but an historian doesn't have that resource. He can't invent a thing. It amazes me how such a very big book, with a cast of thousands, which has to be constructed entirely out of facts- many of them to do with economics and dull stuff like that- can still be so gripping.

I'm waiting- impatiently- for the delivery of a copy of Walter de la Mare's Winged Chariot- a long, meditative poem about the nature of time.  I used to own one- a first edition no less-  but I sold it when money was tight and have regretted it ever since. De La Mare's stock has fallen- and this copy- in good nick according to the seller- cost me a mere £2.80 on Amazon. It's a late work- written when de la Mare was around 80.   I like de la Mare's later poetry: it's twistier, more metaphysical than the earlier, chiming, fairyland lyrics he's best remembered for- but no less beautiful.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2010-06-09 07:35 pm (UTC)
Did the Simon Schama thing ever get televised? It sounds really interesting.

There was a fascinating programme on Robespierre a while back...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-09 08:01 pm (UTC)
Schama's done a lot of TV- but I don't think he's ever had a series on the French Revolution. These days he seems to concentrate on the history of art.

I wish I'd seen the programme on Robespierre.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2010-06-09 08:11 pm (UTC)
I meant to record it. Hilary Mantel was interviewed on it. One of the interesting observations was that Robespierre was inspired at least in part by Sparta...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-10 08:10 am (UTC)
I've always been intrigued by Robespierre- ever since I first encountered him in the Scarlet Pimpernel books. I love Carlyle's characterisation of him as "the sea-green incorruptible". I don't know what it means, but it sounds magnificent.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2010-06-10 05:08 pm (UTC)
I know exactly what you mean. Mantel's Robespierre was very opaque, too. Having read up on my Spartans recently, I can kind of see how it can be argued that they influenced him, because in many ways, he comes across as rather Spartan in his attitudes. Though in others, his aims don't match the Spartan way of doing things at all... It's a fascinating how Classical ideas influenced different figures in different ways.
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