on 4 February 2014
But is it though? No matter. Read this, if for nothing else, for Andrew O'Hagan's enchanting foreword (a 'fraternal preface', the publisher calls it) wherein he is a gentle Boswell to Seamus Heaney
'Animals and people, town and country, I told myself, are in this thing together. The thing is 'nature..'' - that is, the natural world, he clarifies. These soporific ramblings could be seen as a sequel to Raymond Williams's Town and Country, which even Miller himself concedes is a dull read. As for Miller, his two-volume autobiography hardly set the Thames alight, but he spans an era. These essays in the pastoral ('the mossy fundament of literature': O'Hagan) display a fondness for the word eidetic but otherwise plough no new furrow. They mainly look to the farther-flung reaches of the British Isles, though Francis Kilvert's oh-so-English struggles with the flesh are touched on in the first, previously unpublished chapter, otherwise a rather pedestrian overview or checklist. Tretower was the seat of the Vaughan family, who sired the poet. Clyro was Kilvert's parish and is also Raymond Williams country; there be dragons!