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Tony Grist

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Re-reading Belloc [Aug. 14th, 2010|07:40 pm]
Tony Grist
The rain stopped for a while this afternoon, so I set up a chair in the garden and read a handful of essays by Hilaire Belloc who was- I think- the first entirely adult writer I ever read. On this occasion I read his essays on Ely, on Roncesvalles, on the Canigou, on The Roman Road and on A Man and His Wood. On that first occasion (I'll guess I was about 12) we were on holiday in a damp hotel in the Quantocks - a house where Wordsworth had stayed and entertained Coleridge- and the bookshelf (guests for the use of) was full of Belloc's books and I read them all. I love his sense of place and history,  his boisterous catholicism, his pagan tristitia.  Later I became a fervent Chestertonian, but if I had to chose between the two halves of the Chesterbelloc it's Belloc I'd keep. He has the less original mind, but he's wiser and- at the the level of craft- a much more varied writer.  I don't suppose I'd have liked him in the flesh- he was boisteous, of a bullying manner- a man's man and I am not- but these are accidental things.