Customer Review

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Gurney, 15 Mar 2009
This review is from: Ivor Gurney and Marion Scott: Song of Pain and Beauty (Hardcover)
IVOR GURNEY and MARION SCOTT: SONG OF PAIN AND BEAUTY

This book explores the relationship between a supposedly "mad" poet and an upper middle class musicologist. It does this so thoroughly that all our previous misconceptions of Gurney and Scott are systematically given the lie. This is surely, the most heartbreaking tale ever, of a genius struggling to be heard and a woman who believed in him. If she did not succeed in her own lifetime, Marion Scott's continual act of philanthropy, altruism and love, made others aware of this most extraordinary poet/composer. And so he came down to us. His day has come and with it a bonus for all lovers of English poetry and song. Pamela Blevins book is the decisive factor.

She tells us the nearest we'll ever get to know about the nature of his mental illness. She also unashamedly attempts to lift the reputation of one of the 20th century's great reformers in the world of music, literature and perhaps most surprisingly, sexual equality. The male dominated literary and musical establishments may have politely sidelined her own work but Blevins makes an irresistible case for a fresh look at this kindly and remarkable woman.

The research involved has taken the debate on both protagonists to a new level. This is chiefly due to it's lack of over dramatisation and its concentration on facts: facts unknown to Gurney's previous biographer Michael Hurd, who made such a significant impact on Gurney's reputation. Thanks to Hurd he now has his own society, is on the GCSE syllabus (for what that may be worth), and is widely read and listened to for pleasure by buffs and enthusiasts alike. Thanks to Blevins' book more people will be admitted into his sad but ultimately valedictory world. The synergistic effect of including Scott alongside her beloved genius is more than justified. It gives the reader a vantage point from which to see Gurney more clearly. As for the songs and poetry, more will no doubt come to light, as a direct result of this book.

G. Baverstock
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