Thursday, April 17, 2014

Some Blunden links

Carcanet has published a volume of poetry by John Greening. Most of the poems are addressed to WWI poets. The volume also includes translations of some German and Austrian poets (e.g., Trakl and Heym). One of Greening's poems is 'To Edmund Blunden (Ypres)', read by Greening on YouTube.

Greening on Blunden:
Here was a war poetry that had never quite left Pound’s ‘dim land of peace’. It was comfortable with syntactical inversion, ‘poetic’ diction, literary allusion. It described nature. Blunden wrote of shepherds as others might mention bus conductors. He assumed readers knew the difference between an ash and an elm, could recognise a coppice, had heard of a hame, a garth.
Another quotation of Greening, this time on Blunden's preferred mode of pastoral being stressed to the breaking point on the western front: 'The period 1914-18 was a stylistic turning point. You see it in the work of someone like Blunden, who wants to be a conventional pastoralist, but whose style is almost torn apart under the pressure of events (his ‘Third Ypres’ for instance).'

Also from Carcanet, Fall in, Ghosts: The War Prose of Edmund Blunden, ed. Robyn Marsack.

From Michael Slater's 1997 review of Overtones of War (ed. Martin Taylor):
A most valuable feature of this edition is Taylor's inclusion of all Blunden's post-publication handwritten annotations to poems, made in 1929 and 1954: against "A.G.A.V." he wrote, "Shot himself in a fit of despair, 1924, after long mental misery ... Vidler had been badly wounded, and could not endure many years after though always full of friendship and humour."
'...but we could do nothing except just stare....'

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

WWI literary links

Artists Rifles, Salisbury Plain (1914)

Serpent's Tail has a new edition of Frederic Manning's Her Privates We. Here's Manning's earlier version of that book, The Middle Parts of Fortune.

A few years ago, Serpent's Tail also re-issued Fear by Garbriel Chevallier (trans. Malcolm Imrie). Imrie's award-winning translation of the novel is about to be re-issued by New York Review Books (with the same Introduction by John Berger). Here's Tobias Grey's review in the WSJ.

Jean Echenoz's 1914 is reviewed at Tony's Book World, and at the Mookse, and by Max Byrd at the NY Times, and by Martha Hanna, and by M. A. Orthofer at Complete Review.

Last year, Alma Books published a bio of Flora Sandes, 'the only Western woman to enlist as a soldier in the First World War'.

Also from last year, Lydia Kiesling on Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier.

A TLS survey from last fall of some recent anthologies of WWI poetry.

Here's a good site with brief entries for several English-language WW1 poets, and another good list (from the same site) of WWI works of  fiction, memoir, and drama.

Vayu Naidu summarizes the proceedings of the Royal Society of Literature's program Voices of the Great War. A 90-minute podcast of the program is available. On it you may hear Michael Longley reading from several of the great WWI poets' works.

Derwent May reviews two books, one on Wilfrid Owen and one one Sigfried Sassoon.

The new book on Owen is by Guy Cuthbertson and was also reviewed by Jason Cowley, by Ferdinand Mount, and by none other than Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury.

The one on Sassoon is by Jean Moorcroft Wilson and combines material from her earlier, two-volume Sassoon biography. This shorter version has also been reviewed by Piers Plowright. Wilson was interviewed about Sassoon a few years ago at the BBC.

Here's a substantial article from 1998 (just before vol. 1 of Jean M. Wilson's bio appeared) by Mark Bostridge about Sassoon's post-war travails.

George Simmers on some of the controversy arising from realistic accounts of WWI brutality in Charles Yale Harrison's Generals Die in Bed. It was controversial, but in 2002 it was re-issued by Annick Press, a publisher of books for children and young adults.

Peregrine Acland's All Else is Folly is now available on-line.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

WWI author C. E. Montague

Charles Edward Montague, a Guardian journalist who volunteered to serve in France although he had earlier been opposed to the war.

'Although forty-seven with a wife and seven children, Montague volunteered to join the British Army. Grey since his early twenties, Montague died his hair in an attempt to persuade the army to take him. On 23rd December, 1914, the Royal Fusiliers accepted him and he joined the Sportsman's Battalion.'
He was a 'journalist; author of a number of acclaimed books; 24th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, 1914; full sergeant (grenadier-sergeant), 1915; lieutenant; captain (intelligence); press-officer; after the war one of the authors in the 20's that wrote devastatingly of WWI. Disenchantment was his rather philosophical book about World War I combat.'
Here's a detailed summary and analysis of Disenchantment, according to which, 'The book is ... difficult to read, full of allusions to events, perhaps well-known then but now obscure, packed full also of references to Thucydides, Shakespeare and other allusions of a classic liberal education.'

From Montague's diary (Dec., 1917):
To take part in war cannot, I think, be squared with Christianity. So far the Quakers are right. But I am more sure of my duty of trying to win the war than I am that Christ was right in every part of all that he said, though no one has ever said so much that was right as he did. Therefore I will try, as far as my part goes, to win the war, not pretending meanwhile that I am obeying Christ, and after the war I will try harder than I did before to obey him in all the things in which I am sure he was right. Meanwhile may God give me credit for not seeking to be deceived. (Quoted from the above-linked Spartacus bio.)
Several of Montague's works are available on-line.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Links without any intended unifying theme

Image source

Richard Nixon in an undergrad paper at Whittier College in 1933:
In making a short study of English philosophers during the past year I became an intense admirer of David Hume.
From an exam answer at Boston University by Martin Luther King, Jr. (in Jan. 1952) (via a comment by 'dmf' at NewApps):
As for me, I have found a solution of this problem in the thought of men like Karl Gross, Brightman and Hocking.
Who's Karl Gross? I have heard of Hocking. My late uncle on my mother's side (a Whitehead fan) often spoke of Hocking with reverence. There's a recent Harper's piece by John Kaag on Hocking's excellent library.

King's student paper on Reinhold Niebuhr. Niebuhr's 1965 telegram to King.

Rheinhold Niebuhr.

The 1984 BBC documentary series Sea of Faith is on YouTube, with installments on Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, and Wittgenstein (among others). The house that Wittgenstein designed for his sister appears at 6.35 of this episode. The host, Don Cupitt, gives a partial tour of the house and mentions its 'geometrical tranquility', which reminded me of The Cone in Thomas Bernhard's novel Correction (a very difficult book).

From Cupitt's 2002 Guardian piece on Iris Murdoch:
In the metaphysical tradition it had always been assumed, ever since Parmenides and Plato, that the really real must be one, and perhaps also must be unchangeably perfect. But from Schelling and Schopenhauer onwards, a new tradition develops which, on the contrary, depicts ultimate reality as being at odds with itself, divided and even malignant.
Rowan Williams' lecture 'Faith and Human Flourishing: religious belief and ideals of maturity'.

The latest issue of Humanities (the journal of the National Endowment for the Humanities) has some good literary pieces, inc. Danny Heitman's 'The Quiet Greatness of Eudora Welty', Mark Athitakis' 'The Otherworldly Malamud', and Kathleen B. Jones' 'The Trial of Hannah Arendt'.

Clive James' piece on Robert Frost (from a recent issue of Prospect).

The Japan Times has a series on essential reading for Japanophiles.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Quotes on the self

Bishop Berkeley:
Philonous--.... I know what I mean by the term I and myself; and I know this immediately, or intuitively, though I do not perceive it as I perceive a triangle, a colour, or a sound. (Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous, 1713) 
William James:
This attention to thought as such, and the identification of ourselves with it rather than with any of the objects which it reveals, is a momentous and in some respects a rather mysterious operation. (The Principles of Psychology, Ch. 10, p. 296, 1890)
David Hume:
For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception. When my perceptions are removed for any time, as by sound sleep, so long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist. And were all my perceptions removed by death, and could I neither think, nor feel, nor see, nor love, nor hate, after the dissolution of my body, I should be entirely annihilated, nor do I conceive what is further requisite to make me a perfect nonentity. (Book I, Part 4, Section 6 of A Treatise of Human Nature, 1739)
Thomas Szasz:
People often say that this or that person has not yet found him or herself. But the self is not something that one finds. It is something one creates. (The Second Sin, p. 49, 1973)
Man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards. If man as the existentialist sees him is not definable, it is because to begin with he is nothing. He will not be anything until later, and then he will be what he makes of himself. ('Existentialism is a Humanism', 1946)
According to the latter view, he need only reflectively consider how he would most like to be, and he would be it; that is its freedom of the will. Thus it really consists in a person being his own work.... I, to the contrary, say: .... He cannot resolve to be such or such a person, nor can he become another, but he is once and for all, and after that recognizes what he is. (The World as Will and Representation, vol. 1, Fourth Book, sect. 55, 1819, Aquila-Carus translation)
 Simon Gray:
[I]in order to reinvent, you have to invent, and who therefore is this self-inventing and self-reinventing self, rather like that definition of God as thought thinking on itself, yes, that’s it, I suppose, people who say they have reinvented themselves are thinking of themselves as god-like, and people who describe other people as reinventing themselves are attributing god-like powers to the self, which is a poor, miserable, partly suffocated thing, on the whole. (The Smoking Diaries, p. 163)
This song was written by Leonard Bernstein for a production of Peter Pan, but Simone added some of her own lyrics. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Genovese story and the 38 bystanders

Last weekend, the New York Post ran an article about the debunking of a myth that grew in the wake of Kitty Genovese's brutal 1964 murder in Queen's, New York. According to the myth, launched by the New York Times, thirty-eight New Yorkers observed the murder-in-progress but did nothing to help the victim.

The myth is the focus of a new book-length analysis by Kevin Cook (the focus of the Post's article).

Evidence against the story of the 38 inactive bystanders was presented in the Times itself in 2004 in a piece by Jim Rasenberger. Cook and Ransberger both quote the lawyer Joseph De May, who was interviewed about the case by Brooke Gladstone in 2009.

The evidence against the myth was summarized in a 2007 article in the American Psychologist by three British researchers (Rachel Manning, Mark Levine, and Alan Collins [hereafter MLC]), who cite De May and Rasenberger. MLC examine role of the Genovese myth -- or 'parable', to use their term -- in a slew of psychology textbooks after its introduction into the lore of social psychology by Professors Bibb Latané and John M. Darley, who used the Genovese incident to illustrate the bystander effect. In their paper, MLC situate the Genovese parable in a long social-science tradition of vilifying crowds (esp. urban ones) as corrupting influences, irrational forces that whip people into a frenzy in which calamitous acts of violence are then committed. The novelty of the Genovese case, say MLC (p. 560), is its use in social psychology to present the urban mob not as leading individuals to commit evil but, instead, as promoting evil omissions. As MLC put it, 'the bystander tradition introduces the concept of the power of the collective to impose inaction on individuals' (p. 560). MLC also point out the oddity of taking the Genovese case to exemplify any sort of crowd phenomenon; after all, even if the parable were true, we would be faced with thirty-eight individuals in the privacy of their respective residences ignoring a nearby murder, and not with thirty-eight people being led specifically by crowd dynamics to ignore the crime (MLC, pp. 559-60).

Surprisingly, Latané seems still to believe the Genovese myth and has tried to cast doubt on MLC's work (not very convincingly).

While there continue to be cases of callous indifference to the suffering of crime victims, the evidence for a bystander effect is apparently mixed.

Here's a 1964 30-minute documentary about the Genovese case (presented by Harry Reasoner).

I've already linked to the De May interview from 2009, but it's worth linking to this specific observation of De May's, where he notes that the Genovese myth arose shortly after JFK's assassination, when some pundits had claimed that all Americans bore a collective guilt in connection with the President's murder.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Links on Jane Austen's moral philosophy

Thomas Rodham on Austen as a moral philosopher. (Here's Rodham's earlier post on Austen at his blog, Philosopher's Beard.)

Rose Woodhouse responds to Rodham's claim that Austen's insights as a virtue ethicist came 'at the expense of psychological insight'.

Sarah Emsley's book, Jane Austen’s Philosophy of the Virtues, is reviewed by Peter Graham.

Maria Comanescu on 'Aristotelian Happiness in Jane Austen's Novels'.

From Alice MacLachlan's review of E. M. Dadlez' Mirrors to One Another: Emotion and Value in Jane Austen and David Hume:
Many philosophers, most famously Gilbert Ryle and Alastair MacIntyre, have argued for an Aristotelian reading of Austen: in doing so, they draw on themes of moderation, the importance of habituation, the happiness that comes from practicing virtue with moderate resources, and the role granted to pleasure in the good life. Dadlez grants these Aristotelian elements in Austen, but argues that insofar as they are present in Austen, they are also present in Hume.
From Karen Stohr's 'Practical Wisdom and Moral Imagination in Sense and Sensibility' (pay wall, via Muse): 'I shall use Austen's Sense and Sensibility to examine the skill associated with knowing how to behave rightly in the sense we associate with propriety or decorum. This skill is essential to pleasant social life, and hence, on the Aristotelian view, to human flourishing.' Stohr's paper is in Philosophy and Literature, a search of which turns up several more papers on Austen and philosophy.

Mark Canuel focuses on the character of Fanny in Mansfield Park in 'Jane Austen and the Importance of Being Wrong' (pay wall, via JSTOR).

Philosophy professor Theodore M. Benditt on 'Fanny's Moral Limits'.

Sticking with Mansfield Park, Lorrie Clark follows up Ryle's suggestion (in 'Jane Austen and the Moralists' [pdf]) that Austen's novels take a stance similar to Shaftesbury's moral philosophy: Shaftesbury's Art of "Soliloquy" in Mansfield Park.

In his 'Jane Austen: a Female Aristotelian' (pay wall, via Sage), John Ely says, 'Through her novels, she reforms an Aristotelian ethics. She Christianizes it-again largely following the influence of Shaftesbury.'

On Austen's religious stance, here's a review (to which I liked in an earlier post) of L. M. White's Jane Austen's Anglicanism.

Siris thinks the relevance of Shaftesbury is overestimated.

In his After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre compared Austen with William Cobbett. There's an essay by MacIntyre called 'Jane Austen, William Cobbett, and Jacobin Virtues' in this study guide for Mansfield Park (published by Ignatius Press). I can't identify its provenance.

Sarah Emsley on Mansfield Park.

In 2010, Joyce Kerr Tarpley published (with Catholic University of America Press) Constancy and the Ethics of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park.

Eric Lindstrom in 'Austen and Austin' (pay wall, via T & F): 'Not until [J. L.] Austin's bracingly unconventional lectures were collected as a series of extraordinary books in the mid-twentieth century – a list that also includes his collection Philosophical Papers and the Austen-inspired Sense and Sensibilia – did Jane Austen's novels receive a philosophical counterpart adequate to her works' philosophical energies.'

A new collection on Austen's aesthetics from Rowman & Littlefield:
The essays collected in Jane Austen and the Arts; Elegance, Propriety, and Harmony examine Austen’s understanding of the arts, her aesthetic philosophy, and her role as artist. Together, they explore Austen’s connections with Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Madame de Staël, Joanna Baillie, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck, and other writers engaged in debates on the sensuous experience and the intellectual judgment of art.
In 2004, Cambridge University Press published Peter Knox-Shaw's Jane Austen and the Enlightenment, which is the focus of this brief review.

Roundup on recent English translations

A shot from Carol Reed's The Third Man.

From John Gray's review of a new translation of Curzio Malaparte's The Skin:
If you want a vividly realistic picture of the state of Naples when it was liberated, you should turn to Norman Lewis’s Naples ’44 – another blackly comic book that is also luminously sane. If you want to enter into the delirium and cruelty of the period, it is The Skin you must read.
I like Gray's juxtaposition here of Lewis' greater accuracy with Malaparte's greater truth. An embellished account may be truer to life. This reminds me of a similar contrast between Blunden's Undertones of War and Robert Graves' Goodbye to All That: Blunden stuck closer to the facts while Graves, despite his greater freedom with the truth, gave us a book that better conveys what it was like (at times) to be there.

W. W. Norton & Company has issued Susan Bernofsky's new translation of Kafka's Metamorphosis. Here's an excerpt, and here's an essay that Bernofsky adapted from her Afterword. Rebecca Schuman reviews the new translation in Slate.

Schuman reviews two more books on Kafka (h/t LGH). And here are two reviews of Reiner Stach's Kafka biography: one by John Banville and one by Stephen Mitchelmore.

Robert Pogue Harrison reviews Zibaldone, a translation of Giacomo Leopardi's notebooks, all 2592 pages of them. The translation was produced by a team at the University of Birmingham. Joshua Cohen calls Leopardi's notebooks 'one of the greatest blogs of the nineteenth century'. Tim Parks on the translation of 'zibaldone': 'The word zibaldone comes from the same root as zabaione and originally had the disparaging sense of a hotchpotch of food, or any mixture of heterogeneous elements, then a random collection of notes....'

From Mark O'Connell's review of W. G. Sebald's A Place in the Country (Jo Catling's translation of which has just been released in North America by Random House):
Sebald has a way of viewing the world whereby seemingly minor misfortunes or cruelties are made to stand for catastrophes too terrible to be directly observed.
Here's an excerpt from Sebald essay on Robert Walser. Here's an interview of Catling and Anthea Bell on translating Sebald.

Alma Books publishes Sandor Marai's poems in English: 'This collection, the first and only edition of Márai's poems in the English language, presented in John Ridland's and Peter V. Czipott's brilliant verse translation, and with an introduction by Tibor Fischer, offers a comprehensive selection spanning the author's whole career.'

Zsófia Szilágyi on a newly discovered manuscript by Sandor Márai: 'Confessions of a Bourgeois is undoubtedly one of Márai’s most significant books, with one of the most beautiful endings in Hungarian literature, narrating the news of Franz Ferdinand’s assassination that reached the writer in an idyllic summer milieu. “Princip has aimed precisely. Exactly into the middle of our lives”, as Márai wrote elsewhere.'

David van Dusen on Miklós Szentkuthy's newly translated Marginalia on Casanova, which is 'Szentkuthy’s commentary on the German edition of a French memoir written by a Venetian librarian, Giacomo Casanova, in the 1790s.' Nicholas Lezard included Marginalia in his list of the best paperbacks of 2013. The translation was published by Contra Mundum Press. Rhys Tranter liked it.

Here's Rainer Hanshe on Szentkuthy's Towards the One and Only Metaphor.

Biographer Bengt Jangfeldt on “the battle for Mayakovsky”.

Amanda Lewis on Haruki Murakami and the Nobel Prize. Several more pieces on Murakami.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Blunden's morbid poetry in Undertones of War

One of the best books that I read last year was Edmund Blunden's Undertones of War. Though a work of prose, Blunden's WWI memoir bears marks of the author's poetic skill. Indeed, it was no surprise to learn that an editor of London Magazine, G. S. Fraser, once ran excerpts from Undertones as free verse in that journal. I don't know which passages Fraser selected, but I hope he included this bit from chapter 20, where Blunden is dodging shells in a quagmire of wrecked trenches while confronting 'the thought of being pitched bleeding into the gummy filths and mortifications below.'

Another choice passage appears in chapter 12, which is titled 'Caesar Went into Winter Quarters'. Blunden there describes a trench as having been 'blasted out by intense bombardment into a broad shapeless gorge, and pools of mortar-like mud filled most of it.' Later in the same paragraph, he says that the men
were not yet at the worst of their duty, for the Schwaben Redoubt ahead was an almost obliterated cocoon of trenches in which mud, and death, and life were much the same thing – ... in one place a corpse had apparently been thrust in to stop up a doorway’s dangerous displacement, and an arm swung stupidly. ... The whole zone was a corpse, and the mud itself mortified. (Edmund Blunden, Undertones of War, ch. 12)
Notice the 'mort-' words. Men are 'mortified' in the mud, likened to 'mortar-like' material fit for holding a door in place. The mud sucked away their humanity.

Santanu Das has examined the role of mud in WWI narratives. In connection with the above passage, he says: 'While shelling killed and mutilated, mud insidiously took away human subjectivity: it rendered the living human being a Thing, formless and foundationless.' (For more reflection on this excerpt from Undertones, see pp. 67-8 of Das' Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature.) Mud is a formless (or 'shapeless') morass in which distinctions fade. In it, 'death and life [are] much the same thing'. In this chaos, dying itself loses its meaning -- there can't be a dying if life and death are one.

In chapter 24, while describing his situation after an attack, Blunden says: 'Inside, the pillbox was nearly a foot deep in water, which was full of noxious and rancid matters, metamorphoses, God knows what – scire nefas.' Such ominous allusions to what lurks in pools and streams appear throughout Undertones. Earlier, in chapter 20, we find this observation:
The water below, foul yellow and brown, was strewn with full-sized eels, bream and jack, seething and bulged in death. Gases of several kinds oozed from the crumbled banks and shapeless ditches, souring the air. One needed no occult gift to notice the shadow of death on the bread and cheese in one’s hand, the discoloured tepid water in one’s bottle. (Edmund Blunden, Undertones of War, ch. 20)
'Seething and bulged in death.' Pure poetry! And there's that word 'shapeless' again applied to the landscape. The juxtaposition of food and oozing gases suggests some sort of chthonic digestive process in which forms are broken down and obliterated in 'rancid ... metamorphoses'.

Similar patterns appear in Blunden's 'A Battalion History', in which Blunden says that his unit
had become accustomed to two views of the universe: the glue-ridden formless mortifying wilderness of the crater zone above, and below, fusty, clay-smeared, candle-lit wooden galleries, where the dead lay decomposing under knocked-in entrances. (Edmund Blunden, 'A Battalion History', as quoted in Hew Strachan's 'Introduction' to Undertones of War [Penguin Classics, 2010])

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Anglicans -- mostly literary, some musical

Rowan Williams on 'the point of Narnia', which includes an excerpt from his new book on C. S. Lewis, The Lion's World: a Journey into the Heart of Narnia. Here's an interview with Williams: 'Why Rowan Williams loves C. S. Lewis'.

Peter Hitchens on Lewis.

Steve Donoghue reviews Daniel Swift's Shakespeare’s Common Prayers: The Book of Common Prayer and the Elizabethan Age.

From John Stubbs' review of John Drury's new biography of George Herbert: 'By then Donne was the dean of St Paul's and was finding new self-definition in a venue that demanded preaching "loose as the wind, as large as store" to fill its vast Gothic chamber. Herbert's path, on the other hand, lay towards minimalism, the quietness of retreat.'

A book by Laura Mooneyham White: Jane Austen's Anglicanism (on Google Books). Reviewed here.

'Is there an Anglican culture? Anthony Trollope and the Barchester novels.'

From a review of Hermione Lee's Penelope Fitzgerald: a Life: 'The family included Quakers, Ulster Protestants, Wesleyan Methodists, Evangelicals, Anglicans, Anglo-Catholics and one famous Catholic priest, Mgr Ronald Knox. Fond of all (or most) of them, Fitzgerald decided that schisms were pointless and that all religions were really one, but also that faith was essential for life.'

An article on Rose Macaulay: '"Oh dear, if only the Reformation had happened differently": Anglicanism, the Reformation and Dame Rose Macaulay (1881-1958)', by Judith Maltby, appears in The Church and Literature. This volume also includes 'Jesuit Pulp fiction: The Serial Novels of Antonio Bresciani in La Civiltà Cattolica' by Oliver Logan.

I haven't yet read Macaulay's Towers of Trebizond but I've found these choice quotations from it online:
Then he stopped laughing, and said in the voice one uses when a friend has been killed by a shark, "You heard about poor Charles?"
I went on musing about why it was thought better and higher to love one's country than one's county, or town, or village, or house. Perhaps because it was larger. But then it would be still better to love one's continent, and best of all to love one's planet.
"Take my camel, dear,” said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass. The camel, a white Arabian Dhalur (single hump) from the famous herd of the Ruola tribe, had been a parting present, its saddle-bags stuffed with low-carat gold and flashy orient gems, from a rich desert tycoon who owned a Levantine hotel near Palmyra… I did not care for the camel, nor the camel for me, but, as I was staying with aunt Dot, I did what she bade me, and dragged the camel by its bridal to the shed which it shared with my little Austin and, till lately, with my aunt’s Morris, but this car had been stolen from her by some Anglican bishop from outside the Athenaeum annexe while she was dining there one evening.
I wonder who else is rambling around Turkey this spring. Seventh-day Adventists, Billy Grahamites, writers, diggers, photographers, spies, us, and now the BBC.
'Between 1991 and 1999 D.M. Greenwood produced a series of 9 ‘Ecclesiastical Whodunnits’ centred on the character of Deaconess Theodora Braithwaite. D.M. Greenwood is in fact Dr Diane M. Greenwood who, after teaching classics, took a position as what she described as a ‘low-level ecclesiastical civil servant’' in the Church of England.

Philip Hensher on the centenary of Barbara Pym's birth: 'She has her revenge: on her 100th birthday, all her books are in print, and every one is loved. We Pymmians toast her, even if we reflect as we raise our glasses, like Dulcie Mainwaring, that “there should have been wine… but she drank orange squash”.'

'Pym’s world is inhabited by an eccentric cast of winsome curates, pompous vicars and canons, enthusiastic students, vague professors, badly dressed clergy wives, aging men who live with their cranky mothers, bored civil servants, crotchety librarians, "splendid spinsters," dotty retirees, professed agnostics, titled nobility, "distressed gentlewomen" and discreet homosexual couples.'

Barbara Pym and the Sermon: 'If the sermons reported in the novels fail to satisfy her most reflective characters, a consideration of Barbara Pym’s own long-standing interest in John Henry Newman may offer insight into the kind of sermon that would have satisfied her and her creations.'

Rev. Richard Coles, formerly of the Communards. 'Former popstar, BBC presenter and parish priest Reverend Richard Coles talks to Caspar Melville about faith, doubt and dachsunds.' 'When he applied to train for the priesthood, the church’s medical officer asked if he had taken non-prescription drugs and, if so, which ones. ‘‘I only knew their street names, and he only knew their pharmacological ones. It was a very, very long phone call.’’'