Some People Paperback – 14 Nov 2011
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About the Author
Harold Nicolson (1886-1968) was a man of manifold talents: a diplomat, politician, journalist, broadcaster, historian, biographer, diarist, novelist, lecturer, literary critic, essayist and gardener. Perhaps most celebrated for his Diaries (reissued by Faber Finds in their original three volumes), they run the risk of obscuring the excellence of his other books. He wrote over thirty: Some People, Sir Arthur Nicolson, Peacemaking, 1919, Curzon, The Last Phase, 1919-1925, and The Congress of Vienna are all being reissued in Faber Finds.
Harold Nicolson was educated at Wellington and at Balliol College, Oxford. He joined the Foreign Office in 1909, and in 1913 married the writer Vita Sackville-West. He was a member of the British delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919. He left the Foreign Office in 1929, and in 1935 he was elected National Labour Member of Parliament for West Leicester. In 1940 he was appointed a Junior Minister in Churchill's wartime government.
In his eulogy, John Sparrow, with affectionate aptness, described Harold Nicolson as 'a nineteenth-century Whig leading an eighteenth-century existence in the twentieth-century.'
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book is based more or less on real people Nicholson met from childhood up to and including diplomatic service. As Nicholson's alter ego, the authorial voice is the tenth portrait. The "I" is self regarding, bitchy and bigoted. That tenth portrait came to be something of a burden to Nicholson whose books about diplomacy are still highly regarded. Nicholson's marriage to Vita Sackville-West is the subject of a fine book by their son, Nigel Nicholson.
An example of the wit of Some People described J. D. Marstock, an idolized student head of the school the narrator attended. His tutor says, "One can see that Marstock never had a mean or nasty thought." And the narrator recalling Marstock thinks; it took me six years to realise that Marstock, although stuffed with opinions, never had a thought at all.
There are some French phrases, not translated, which contributes to the tone of the narrator as an effete British snob circa the 1920s. It's quaint, like tea and scones in the afternoon. But it's quite all right even in the 21st Century, old chap...