Customer Review

24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and inspiring, 27 Oct 2010
This review is from: Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper (Hardcover)
This book brings together a load of the writers and artists I've always been drawn to - from seeing Rex Whistler's smoking urn in Mottisfont Abbey, to hearing Betjeman's 'Summoned By Bells', to watching Hitchcock's 'Rebecca'. Throw in some Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden and I was sold. They are not things I had thought of as particularly united; just some stuff washed up from being alive in the 20th century, and I collected it. But this book seemed a perfect fit.

The approach is brilliantly refreshing - a bit like finding a secondhand bookshop packed with so much interesting stuff you can't wait to dive in. It's also intelligent and insightful, and explores a particularly evocative thread of the 20th century that has in recent years come to be appreciated, understood and valued. Romanticism assumes a certain amount of instinctive feeling from the individual in the first place, and is defined in so many ways, and that is why I think the approach here works so well - you are constantly dipping into new perspectives and reinventions. Nowhere are you tied to some dull pigeon-holed framework, but free to see the unity emerge yourself. And the book is exceptionally designed and produced.

And if anyone is accusing these artists of snobbery, I can only think they are staggeringly unfamiliar with John Betjeman's work for a start (the small child's reality-check of 'I wonder where Julia found that strange, rather common little boy?', or his championing of Coronation Street and unfashionable architecture - things which so many modern egalitarians dismiss as the material of 'dull suburban lives').
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Location: UK

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