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Delight Hardcover – 10 Sep 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Great Northern Books Ltd; 60th Anniversary ed edition (10 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905080670
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905080670
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 451,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

hardback book

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This anthology of chips from the writing block of a great author lives up to its name. There are one hundred and fourteen short essays on all manner of things that have given Priestley delight. Not all of them are simple or innocent : there's more than a little malice to be found, for example, in Frightening Civil Servants and Quietly Malicious Chairmanship; and a touch of mischief in Being Solemn About One's Tastes and Not Going. But mostly this is Priestley finding simple pleasure in music, family affairs, smoking, remembrances of childhood, and so on. One of the most amusing, tongue-in-cheek pieces is No School Report, in which Priestley writes just such a report on himself and a frankly bad one. The anthology is beautifully re-produced by Great Northern Books and makes a suitable companion piece to the newly-compiled Modern Delight, published for charity by Waterstones.
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Format: Hardcover
J B Priestley (a fellow Yorkshireman) strikes me as the Keith Waterhouse of his day. This collection of more than 100 mini-essays, from 1949, is delightfully old-fashioned, a book for dipping into (though it could have been pruned, some are much better than others and he does get a bit repetitive.) Priestley is a benign sort of chap who takes pleasure in mild grumbling. Some of his pleasures, sadly, have all but disappeared ... sea travel (I doubt he would include cruises), tobacco from real tobacconists, buying sheet music, stereoscopes. Others bring a flash of delighted recognition ... the feel of a new box of matches, theatre curtains, the sound of an orchestra warming-up, mineral water in hotel rooms. Still others are delights in something not happening ... not going out socially, not being the subject of school reports. Written during the Austerity era, this clearly wasn't a golden age - everything has changed since Priestley's childhood and taxes are sky high. But reading this I could smell the world we have lost (if books were smells, this is a tweed jacket with leather patches, rarely dry-cleaned and owned by a pipe-smoker). My personal delight was finding an old-fashioned library copy from the days before my local library became an internet cafe.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My daughter Joy gave me an absolutely lovely little book for my birthday: Delight, by J. B. Priestley. It consists of a hundred or so short pieces describing things that delighted him throughout his life. Silly things, wonderful things: "Fountains", "charades, "smoking in a hot bath", "fiddling while Rome burns", "quietly malicious chairmanship"--just moments in a life when you think, what joy. We all have moments like this--or at least, I hope we do!

In his forward--'The Grumbler's Apology'--he says that he has always been something of a curmudgeon, and that this is his "bit of penitence, for having grumbled so much, for having darkened the breakfast table, almost ruined the lunch, nearly silenced the dinner party, for all the fretting and chafing, grousing and croaking, for the old glum look and the thrust-out lower lip. "

I love that he is moved by the charm of small things, the power to delight that for instance the smell of bacon in the morning has: "We plan, we toil, we suffer - in hope of what? A camel-load of idols' eyes? The title deeds of Radio city? The Empire of Asia: A trip to the moon? No, no, no, no. Simply to wake just in time to smell coffee and bacon and eggs. And, again I cry, how rarely it happens! But when it does happen - then what a moment, what a morning, what delight!"

A picture of the man emerges from these little pieces. He is of the last century, served in the first world war and then worked in radio during the second. Famous as an author and playwright, whose works, I am ashamed to say, I have no familiarity with. These charming pieces seem a good introduction; I shall look for further works.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The novelist and playwright J.B. Priestley had a reputation--among his colleagues and his own family--as a chronic complainer. Yet Priestley saw himself as a man who was wide awake to life's joys and took a keen pleasure in them, and in this book he set out to prove that. It contains 114 brief essays, some less than a page in length, none longer than a few pages, each of them describing a person, place or thing that pleased him.

Whether celebrating ordinary pleasures, such as reading detective stories in bed, or more exotic ones, like the smell of Tahiti on the horizon, Priestley's writing is pungent, humorous, touching and memorable. I first read this book about 20 years ago and have hunted down many second-hand copies and given them to friends and family. Some must have wondered why I had bought and carefully wrapped a somewhat faded book from half a century ago.

So it's a real delight to have this handsome new edition that fits nicely into the hands and does justice to a book that's bound to bring pleasure to a whole new generation of readers. You'll find that many of Priestley's delights are yours, too, although you may never have stopped to fully notice them before.

If I were a teacher, I'd ask each of my students to dip into this book as they wished, and then to try writing five or six hundred words to describe something that gives them special pleasure. They may not find it easy to do, but if they succeed, despite the buzz of jargon and circumlocution that surrounds us each day, they'll discover that one of the delights Priestley has to share with us is engaging language that goes straight to the heart.
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