This review is from: John Buchan : By His Wife and Friends (Hardcover)
I have the 1947 imprint of this intriguing collection of background pieces about 'Lord Tweedsmuir', compiled by his widow, Susan, and a collection of friends and colleagues that John Buchan worked closely with throughout his lifetime.
Inevitably, much of the content in this book is reverential towards Buchan. Elsewhere, I have read criticism of the man, and it would be unrealistic I suspect for such a character to have received unanimous praise. It seems, as one reads this book, that he was so driven, so disciplined and so hardworking, that there would no doubt be those that viewed his mere existence as a reproach.
The book is well-written. It is useful as a source of background information, to read alongside "Memory Hold The Door', his own memoires, which were published after his death. I found this volume especially useful for all the incidental references to so many other luminaries, who formed part of Buchan's set. Susan Buchan manages to casually name-drop so many of the great and good, that one is forever wanting to put the book on hold, and go off down numerous side-alleys to see where they take one. And there are references to many other intriguing volumes which by now must be unavailable, but where one feels inclined to invest a little time in detective work.
Several impressions are reinforced by this book:
(1) The idea that Buchan, and so many of his contemporaries, were men and women of very great stature - in terms of moral substance and erudition. These are qualities which seem in painfully short-supply these days;
(2) The pervading sense of grief over the sheer waste of beautiful lives during the Great War, and then the painful realisation that the bereaved were going to have to go through it all, over again;
(3) The rapid passing of precious lives - several of those who contributed articles for this compilation, did not survive to see the book published;
(4) A pervasive and considered articulation of the value of certain figures - both Buchan himself, but also the very specific and insightful ways in which he celebrates the qualities of those he encounters, and the steps he and others took to show that appreciation in practice. I would say that this way of valuing others has almost entirely disappeared from our culture.