9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Highly recommend it,
This review is from: In Search of the English Eccentric: A Journey (Hardcover)
I found In Search of the English Eccentric in the travel section of my local bookstore, but it is far more than a travel book. In the context of travel writing, the author exoticises his native Britain led by a quest for eccentrics. The travel is also across time, reviving dandies dustied with age, in an effort to update the concept of the eccentric from its Victorian roots.
Unlike a travel book, however, this is not a list of people or places to see. The book is carefully structured around themes and introduces us to characters who fail to meet the definition of eccentric as well as to those who come out triumphant. Questioning the concept of eccentric leads Hemming into provocative terrain regarding the relationship between eccentricity, madness, perversion and creativity.
Creativity is clearly a theme close to the heart of the author, who is an artist of his own right. Each chapter is illustrated with etchings made by Hemming in the manner of a 19th century botanist. And the narrative is peppered with metaphor, creating unexpected images at every page turn. The book also reads like theatre in parts, full of carefully recorded dialogue between Hemming and his subjects.
In short, this is a playful book with an entertaining approach to serious and well researched questions about the relationship of individuals to society. I highly recommend it.