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Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hundreds of pages of wonderful entertainment, 23 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: New Fame New Love (Hardcover)
Bevis Hillier,this a fantastic book without a single boring sentence.On every page,every paragraph a joke,an anecdote,an amusing story,an insight,a literary gem,a witticism,a wistful moment,a juicy bit of gossip.I have read and reread it and I love it,I really love it.Tinkerty-tonk,old thing.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Aug 2015 11:06:51 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Aug 2015 12:24:40 BDT
The thought of so much 'fun' sounds stomach-churning. And what does Betjeman's fame amount to? Without TV he would have been remembered, if at all, as a minor (VERY minor) poet with a death fixation and an eccentric champion of unfashionable, often rather ugly architecture. What do Bevis Hillier's 25 years of labour add? A lot of nondescript goss about a melancholic buffoon with rather little to show for his background of privilege. Egad, never were so many words devoted to a teddy bear! Ennobled he may have been, but Pooh Bear had class, as do Brian Sewell and Grayson Perry; none are cuddly, exactly

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Oct 2015 15:12:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 Oct 2015 15:50:07 BDT
Chase Review says:
Oh dear, Simon! Such sweeping statements (What is the opposite of 'stand-up-cheer'?). I feel slightly embarrassed for you, in so far as you've missed so much of what Betjeman was about.
Having perused your 'reviews' pages, I note, you consider yourself to know a bit about poetry; I regret that I can only challenge your rather bold self-assessment, in my capacity as a (retired) Surveyor of buildings - and planning; I know something about that, so let's deal with these matters, first.
John Wood's Bath, Barlow's London St Pancras.....The (long demolished) Euston Arch; I suppose you really consider these feats of masterful design achievement ugly? Do you think - for a moment - that The Queen Elizabeth 2nd Conference Centre, so fittingly (?) located, opposite Westminster Cathedral and among such pleasing Regency and Victorian planned environment, is beautiful? I must concede it is a fitting building for 'corporate businessmen'....even better put somewhere out of the public eye....and what will it look like 100 years hence? Indeed, what will it be like, living in a hell of steel and glass? (If it should even last that long....).

With regard to his poetry, I must point out that Betjeman's highly successful 'Collected Poems' was published in 1958....somewhat prior to much of his (superb) television work. I agree (and he knew it) that much of his poetry was lacking. His autobiographical 'Summoned by Bells', however, was a genius of blank verse - and received as such.
As a prose writer and broadcaster, JB had the unique ability to draw you into his world...to 'open our eyes that we may see' (Norman Taylor 'Literary Review'). He received so many plaudits and honours during his lifetime, and was loved by so many with a might of authority..... I suppose they're all misguided?

You mention Brian Sewell, for whom I have high regard; like so many existing in the world of - what we may generally regard as 'art' - he was not without (most undeserved) personal problems. Oh, and the work of John Milton; he could be controversial, particularly in his political views.
So Betjeman's life was distorted by conflict in childhood and religious confusion. But much of his work recognised - even paid minor homage to - the ordinary. People and places fascinated him. He unashamedly promoted 'ordinaryness' alongside his background of 'priveleged' snobbery. He became a champion of what both was and is important. In the maniacal march to - what you obviously consider to be - a preferred unbridled 'fashionable', he saw what we were losing, and the horrendous sight of so much that was replacing it. He was prophetic in his observations on the suicidal march of traffic and modern planning. Thank goodness for him. The evidence is there for us to witness.
Meanwhile, you are entitled to your extraordinary view; perhaps, however, the wealth of better informed thinking wins the day.
Hillier's work is a penetrating insight into the life of one of the twentieth century's foremost poets and commentators. I think it is a fine work. If you genuinely suggest that this work is anything of a waste of labour.... 'Il Penseroso'? You cannot be serious, man?
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