Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The Towers Of Trebizond: Rose Macaulay

When I was at theological college we took a retreat en masse at Walsingham- and because it was a silent retreat we had a book read to us at mealtimes. The book that was chosen- and read with great expression and comic timing- by our chaplain- John Armson- was The Towers of Trebizond. It was the funniest thing I'd ever heard- funnier than Tony Hancock, funnier than Round the Horne, funnier than Songs For Swinging Sellers.

It presents as rambling and effortless and naive, but, of course, you can only achieve that effect through art and experience. Picasso said he'd spent a lifetime learning to paint like a child, and Macaulay might have said she'd spent a lifetime learning to write like an artless young woman. It's an extraordinarily vivacious book to have been written by a person in their seventies.

It is also terribly sad. To be funny and sad at the same time- in the same voice-  is something only the very best writers can do.
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