Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Friday, April 24, 2015
Rupert Brooke: a bundle of prejudice and insanity?
Overstatement mars an assessment of the war poet's life, as this review from the Telegraph archives finds
A detail from Sherrill Schell's photograph of the poet Rupert BrookePhoto: National Portrait Gallery
By Peter Parker
The Telegraph - 23 Apr 2015
This piece was originally published on October 23 1999
Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth by Nigel Jones
CAN there be anyone left who still believes that Rupert Brooke was a fine, upstanding young Englishman who represented the very best of what was lost in the First World War? Nigel Jones is being promoted by his publisher as an iconoclast, but in all honesty there is not much marble left for him to swing his hammer at. Swing it, though, he does – and with a great deal of unseemly glee.
Under "character" in the Index, a handful of admirable traits, including "animal-lover" and "self-deprecation", are listed; but these dwindle into insignificance beside the catalogue of defects: "anti-feminism, anti-Semitism, bitterness, childishness, deception, deviousness, disgust with the body, egotism, envy, exhibitionism, hysteria, jealousy, mawkishness, misogyny, narcissism, paranoia, selfishness, snobbery" – and so on. Even "socialism" is placed in heavily ironic quotation marks, despite the fact that Brooke was an active member of the Fabian Society. More