This historical review is of interest. It appeared in the 'Times Literary Supplement' on 22 October, 1908. The reviewer is E V Lucas, a not-bad authorThis historical review is of interest. It appeared in the 'Times Literary Supplement' on 22 October, 1908. The reviewer is E V Lucas, a not-bad author, but his comments may serve as a lesson to all critics.
"The Wind in the Willows"
The author of “The Golden Age” and of “Dream Days,” the historian of the immortal Harold, has disappointed us.
There is no getting away from that melancholy fact. He has written in The Wind in the Willows (Methuen, 6s.) a book with hardly a smile in it, through which we wander in a haze of perplexity, uninterested by the story itself and at a loss to understand its deeper purpose.
The chief character is a mole, whom the reader plumps upon on the first page whitewashing his house. Here is an initial nut to crack; a mole whitewashing. No doubt moles like their abodes to be clean; but whitewashing? Are we very stupid, or in the joke really inferior? However, let it pass. Then enters a water rat, on his way to a river picnic, in a skiff, with a hamper of provisions, including cold tongue, cold ham, French rolls, and soda water. Nut number two; for obviously a water rat is of all animals the one that would never use a boat with which to navigate a stream Again, are we very stupid, or is this nonsense of poor quality?
Later we meet a wealthy toad, who, after a tour of England in a caravan, drawn by a horse, becomes a rabid motorist. He is also an inveterate public speaker. We meet also a variety of animals whose foibles doubtless are borrowed from mankind, and so the book goes on until the end. Beneath the allegory ordinary life is depicted more or less closely, but certainly not very amusingly or searchingly; while as a contribution to natural history the work is negligible.
There are neat and fanciful passages; but they do not convince. The puzzle is, for whom is the book intended? Grown up readers will find it monotonous and elusive; children will hope in vain for more fun.
The materials for an English “Uncle Remus” are here, but without the animating spirit. For ourselves, we lay “The Wind in the Willows “ reverently aside, and again, for the hundredth time, take up “The Golden Age.” Perhaps that is the real inner purpose of the new work—to send readers to its deathless forerunners—to “The Golden Age” and “Dream Days.”
There was a major blunder here, with a Spaniard asking for penicillin in late 1940. There were two 1929 references to penicillin in 'Science', and notThere was a major blunder here, with a Spaniard asking for penicillin in late 1940. There were two 1929 references to penicillin in 'Science', and nothing else until June 1942. This is a glaring anachronism. OK, that falls within my specialist area, but the writing was starting to get me down a bit, possibly because I have just read four of his Shardlake mysteries.
This makes me wonder a bit about the people who praise the research.
Suffice it to say that I have still not finished this book, and will not now do so....more
An excellent account of the era of the Risorgimento by a master story teller. Italy in the 19th century, with many acts of bastardry. I'm just sorry hAn excellent account of the era of the Risorgimento by a master story teller. Italy in the 19th century, with many acts of bastardry. I'm just sorry he didn't mention the nice draymen at the London brewery who showed Haynau what it felt like to be whipped....more
A clear, concise and fascinating account of the most marvellous intellectual tussle. It left me wishing Linear B hadn't been cracked, because now I knA clear, concise and fascinating account of the most marvellous intellectual tussle. It left me wishing Linear B hadn't been cracked, because now I know how they did it, I could do it too :-)
The ready wit may recall here the parable of Christopher Columbus standing an egg on its end. The unready wit and the ready unwit should look it up.
The unready unwit should scratch its head and wonder what's for breakfast, could it be eggs?...more
Actually, not so much read then as finished writing then...
A note from the author: I have a policy of NOT rating my own books, but I was really pleaseActually, not so much read then as finished writing then...
A note from the author: I have a policy of NOT rating my own books, but I was really pleased with the way this turned out. It is heavy, 1.5 kg, but there is an epub e-book due out soon, for less than half the price. AUD$15, I understand.
I commend this e-version to overseas readers in particular, but even more so for Australian readers. That is because this e-book is not the usual print-book-on-the-screen, because we pushed the envelope.
Well, to be blunt, we shoved the envelope out the window. This is no mere-smear shovelware, shoe-horning the dead-tree version into a non-atoms form, because the National Library of Australia indulged, even welcomed, my fantasy of creating Something Completely Different.
There are something like 500 hotlinks in the text, taking the reader with a web-connected e-reader to a wealth of extra information, mainly contemporary news reports from the National Library's wonderful Trove collection of historic newspapers.
I hope that other e-book makers will follow suit. There is an e-book on gold rushes in production which follows the same philosophy, and a bushrangers one, right behind that. Neither of those will have a dead-tree equivalent....more