Sunday, January 13, 2019


Unacknowledged Legislation is a celebration of Percy Shelleys's assertion that 'poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world'.  In over thirty magnificent essays on writers from Oscar Wilde to Salman Rushdie, and with his trademark wit, rigour and flair, master critic Christopher Hitchens dispels the myth of politics as a stone tied to the neck of literature.  Instead, Hitchens argues that when all parties in the state are agreed on a matter, it was the individual pens that created space for a true moral argument.

A great collection of essays and he doesn't even go full 'Hitch' on Tom Clancy.  My only problem reading Hitchens is that I don't have the vocabulary to read him without constantly referring to a dictionary, I learn but taking a big Websters to bed gets complaints from the other occupant

Any time reading Hitchens is time well spent, get amongst it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


In the Lodge of a Cambridge college the old Master is dying.  He knows , and his thirteen colleagues know, that shortly they will elect his successor.  It will be one of their own number, and the rival candidates are Paul Jago, warm and sympathetic, but given to extravagant moods, and handicapped by a wife, who, his opponents say, would be disastrous in the Lodge, and Crawford, a solid man with half Jago's human gifts but shrewd, cautious , and reliable.

This is politics in a very small insular world, in fact there is no real mention of any life away from the college.  The author lived in this world and I imagine this is very close to being a memoir.  The machinations of those involved in the election are fascinating and very interesting.

The only fault with this is its very very slow, 300 pages over this one election, very interesting but it did get hard as what was going to happen became obvious. 

This is part of Snow's series , Strangers and Brothers, which runs to eleven novel and the second one I've read.  This is evidently the best but it became a slog for me due to the small world it inhabits.

Politics really is loathsome.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


A continental government with a civil war on its hands sends D., a former lecturer in romance languages, to England to buy coal... at almost any price.  Failure means defeat.  But D. has hardly landed before force, corruption, and treachery gather round him;  he is pursued by both the English Police and the rebels' agents.

This is a good intelligent thriller with some very droll humour.  No James Bond moments but there is a tension that is maintained from the beginning of the story aboard a ship sailing to England through to the conclusion.

I did find it annoying that the agent D. is referred to as simply D., all through the book, no idea why this was done.

This is one of the books that Greene referred to as an 'entertainment' seemingly to place them on a lower tier than his big novels. There is no drop in standard and for a Greene the ending is almost happy.