A Week With Words (11)

At the end of April I started writing a post for my Second Achilles blog. It grew and grew and I got discouraged so put it to one side.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I found a reason to continue it but – such a procrastinator – put off doing so until I was ready to burst with impatience towards myself.

That came last weekend. So, on Monday and Tuesday I put my head down and got on with the writing… twice, as WordPress failed to save my work on the first day so I had to write the last 1,000 words all over again.

Anyway, the post is part of an occasional series in which I look at on-line articles on Alexander and see how faithful they are to the sources. It is called The Knowledge (of Alexander) and if you would like to read it, you can do so here.

The reason I mention all this here is because my work on the post meant that I didn’t have time to pick up my reading until Wednesday. And if truth be told, as I was out last night, Wednesday and Thursday were my only reading days this week.

Books Finished
My limited reading, however, didn’t prevent me from finishing David Hogarth’s Devia Cypria (1889).

Well, alright, all I had to read was the appendix, which was only a very few pages long.

I would love for everyone to read Hogarth’s works but I have to admit I am not sure how I would persuade them to read the Dev.Cyp. You really do have to be interested in him, antiquity or Cyprus.

I suppose, though, that this applies to all authors. Even the popular ones. That makes me feel only marginally better. I love reading Hogarth’s works and would love even more to be able to make a great case for everyone to read them.

Books Started
With the Devia Cypria finished, my Grand Tour of David Hogarth’s corpus continues with The Nearer East (1905). I have read the opening pages and it appears to be simply a topographical assessment of that region. He mentions historical names and places but so far has not gone any further than that.

On Going Books

The Ariadne Objective
Wes Davis
If anyone asks you ‘Why should I read this when Patrick Leigh Fermor wrote his own account of the kidnap?’ tell them that Davis’ book is worth reading because of the background detail he brings to the narrative. Who was Billy Moss? Where did he come from? What about this fellow Pendlebury? Davis tells you. This makes Ariadne a perfect companion to Patrick Leigh Fermor’s Abducting a General rather than a rival.

This week, I learnt about a lady named Sophie Tarnowska. Born in 1917 to well heeled parents (I’m not sure if they were nobility or not) she was forced to flee her native country of Poland by the advance of the Nazis. She went from one country to the next before ending up in Egypt. There, she invented a fictitious chaperone and lived with Leigh Fermor and his friends while they were on leave from operations in Crete.

Tarnowska sounds a remarkable woman – when Rommel captured Tobruk, she decided she had had enough of running and as everyone fled east to Palaestine, she went west – towards the fighting – to Alexandria, where she took a room at an expensive hotel and enjoyed the sun.

Fortunately for her and all, the British halted Rommel’s advance. I would love to learn more about Tarnowska, her life in Poland, on the run, for the Polish Red Cross and what she did after the war.

The Colour of Magic
Terry Pratchett
What can I say of this book? Pratchett continues to pile absurdity upon absurdity – one of the latest being our heroes visit to an upside down mountain – to fantastic comic effect. I have two candidates for my Book of the Year so far (Mad World and The Search for Zerzura). The Colour of Magic is definitely a leading contender for Unexpected Literary Pleasure of 2015.


For the last couple of weeks I have been meaning to read some of Rupert Brooks’ poetry. This week, I finally got round to doing so. I have been reading them on the Rupert Brooks Society web page here.

My favourite so far is Failure, which reads like a mythological epic in sonnet form. I wonder if it influenced Phillip Pullman? I like the poem, not because Brooks appears to be implying that God is dead but for the sheer drama of the speaker’s rebellion, arrival in heaven (is it?) and the empty place that he finds. But not only for that but for the mystery of what inspired his rebellion in the first place.

This entry was posted in Twentieth Century Literature, Twentieth Century Poetry, Twenty First Century Biography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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