As in “chaps mucking in together in digs, women on the periphery if at all” (paraphrased).
That is a description of Wind in the Willows given by John Sutherland, Eremitus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College, London, in today’s Book Show on ABC Radio National. He also described one of the themes of the book being about the maintenance of the social order, keeping down those frightful oiks of stoats and weasels who try to take over Toad Hall, only to be battered by Badger back into rightful submission.
But Prof Sutherland also described how those are only readings of the book that he has developed as an adult, and how his first encounter with the story of Mole breaking free from his dark bunker to the light and life of the riverbank was immensely attractive and idealistic when he first read it as a boy in the blackout of the London Blitz.
It’s all part of a a piece promoting his latest book Magic Moments:
a kind of Biographia Literaria as he takes a look back to the magic of 25 experiences of books, films, plays, songs, paintings, sounds and smells which took him by surprise, sank into his memory and changed his life
I find that an immensely appealing approach to examining a history of ideas and responses (you can listen to the program online here). So I’m opening it up to Hoydenizens: what experiences of books, films, plays, songs, paintings, sounds and smells in your lifetimes still linger in your memory, and why?