Crack for Anglophiles

Two items of note for you Anglophiles out there:

The BBC has collected its interviews with British authors in this amazing online archive. Listen to conversations with Virginia Woolf, P. G. Wodehouse, Kingsley Amis, Hilary Mantel, V. S. Naipaul...the list goes on. Alas I can't locate any Graham Greene, but this piece on J.R.R. Tolkien is a treat.

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Speaking of Middle Earth, in the New Yorker Adam Gopnik (always a must-read) draws some intriguing parallels between the wizards in Tolkien's trilogy and the outsized characters who took the stage during World War II: 

Both Churchill and Hitler were nineteenth-century Romantics, who believed in race and nation—in the Volksgeist, the folk spirit—as the guiding principle of history, filtered through the destinies of great men. (It is startling to think that, even in the darkest depths of the Second World War, J. R. R. Tolkien was writing the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which contains, with the weird applicability available only to poetry and myth, the essential notion that the good gray wizard can understand the evil magi precisely because he is just enough like them to grasp their minds and motives in ways that they cannot grasp his.) Of course, Churchill and Hitler were, in the most vital respects, opposites. Churchill was, as Lukacs insists, a patriot, imbued with a love of place and people, while Hitler was a nationalist, infuriated by a hatred of aliens and imaginary enemies. But Churchill knew where Hitler was insecure and where he was strong, and knew how to goad him, too.

Read the whole piece here.

Tim Reidy

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Pearce Shea
8 years ago
Thanks for this, this is FANTASTIC.

There is a cute story told by Tolkein's son and grandson about how Tolkein would loudly say (occasionally its told that he would shout) the latin in Mass after the switch to English. The kid/grandkid were both mortified, but there you go. Nobody takes latin away from an oxford man, I guess.
Tom Maher
8 years ago
Thank you Tim Reidy for the link to the Sepetember 4, 2010,  New Yorker article by Adam Gopnik titled "Finest Hour", "The Making of Winston Churchill".  You do not have to be an anglophile to appreciate this most excellent article on Winston Churchill and his cmasterful central leadership role in World War II.  Gopnik's article is certainly mind altering for anyone. . 

Americans do admire Churchill.  But this article jsut how fortunate we are in having Churchill great lereadership in a time of great world crisis that seemed to confuse everyone else.  In 1940 while Britain was deep in war the United States both political parties ran on a platform of keeping America neutral and out of the war.  It is woderful of Gopnik to remind us what kind of leader it took to anticipate and deal with the largest war in history, World War II.

Churchill was prepared as noone else could be to deal with Hitler.  Churchill was alert to  Hitler's intentions to bring the world to war and therefore better prepared to deal with a war that surprised most everyone else again and again as it spread ever wider engulfing the whole world.    What American leader would have been prepared or able to fight a battle for national survival as Churchill did in the devastating Battle of Britian with only sparse aid form other nations?   This is an epic story of leadership that enabled Great Britqain and the rest of the world to survive and then eventually bring to an end the horrors of World War II.  It is a key part of world hsitory.

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