what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Among you, taking notes

I am not a fan of the city of Bucharest. I find it ugly, noisy, and dirty. I find it difficult to understand its fans – such as one PVE Wood whose idiosyncratic A Political Refugee from the global village is a highly readable blog I turn to frequently.
After 3 months’ absence, I noticed that even the bird-caws are aggressive – compared with Koln! But it is always a pleasure to visit its bookshops after a gap, particularly the two which are hidden at the far side of the National Gallery beside a very old small Kretzulescu church. 
The Humanitas bookshop had another mouth-watering title from the great series on old Romanian buildings being produced by the Igloo architectural group - Campulung Muscel – sketches for an architectural monograph. Campulung is a small gem we always try to visit on our way up to the mountain house – when, that is, we take the longer route via Tirgovishte (also worth a visit). It has an amazing number of vernacular villas from its time as a haven for artists and the Bucharest bourgeoisie - and was, during Ceaucescu times, a place of exile for those out of favour.....

But the great finds were in the Anthony Frost English bookshop next door. 
A signed copy of Timeless and Transitory Р20th century relations between Romania and the English-speaking world (2012) by Ernest Latham is an intriguing and highly readable collection of essays by an American specialist in Romania who worked in the 1980s as a cultural attach̩ in the Bucharest American Consulate. His historian's take on the country can be seen on a series of short videos

Naomi Mitchison is, for us Scots, a name to conjure with. A very independent-minded lady born in 1897, she published her first (of 80 odd!) book in the 1920s and lived from the late 1930s in Carradale House on the edge of a small village on the beautiful Kintyre peninsula behind the peaks of the island of Arran. Among you taking notes – the wartime diaries of Naomi Mitchison 1939-1945 ed Dorothy Sheridan (1985) are the diaries she kept at the behest of Mass Observation, a volunteer body which encouraged people to record in diaries the life around them. I was born only a sea-gull’s flight away from Mitchison’s home in Carradale as she was writing her notes on everyday life in wartime Scotland and will read her book through my parents’ eyes and ears. She died, after an extraordinarily full life, in 1999. She is one of a generation whose ilk we shall not see again!! In a future post I shall pay tribute to women of her generation from both the UK and Germany......

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath ed Karen Kukil (2000) are 700 powerful pages packed with poetic freshness which encourage me to get hold of her poetry.
My final find was "Windy Arbours - Collected Criticism" (2005) by an Irish American writer Aidan Higgins I had never heard of. It's a collection of short book reviews written in a language one can only call poetic. 

The delight of the Anthony Frost bookshop (apart from its music and the coffees which occasionally come your way) is that you could only find titles like that there. Books which celebrate the past......

No comments:

Post a Comment