"In my experience of writing – and of life – the frenzy of dreams and that of form always go together." Iosi Havilio
Posts tagged "Second World War"
Seduced by utopia

Seduced by utopia

“Now do tell me – what does it feel like to wake in the morning on a Tuscan farm?” Virginia Woolf asked a much younger Iris Origo in 1935. Invited to stay for tea at the Tavistock Square flat above the Hogarth Press, Origo, we may assume, obliged with a beautifully eloquent answer – after...
Chris Cleave: Across the divide

Chris Cleave: Across the divide

Chris Cleave’s latest novel, Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, is a London-set examination of the real impact of the Second World War, centring on an 18-year-old schoolteacher called Mary North. Cleave and I have tea one afternoon in Piccadilly to discuss it. There’s a reason why we’re drinking tea and not, say, vermouth. Cleave doesn’t drink....
Waves of joy and doubt

Waves of joy and doubt

During the Second World War Astrid Lindgren, creator of Pippi Longstocking, was an aspiring writer living in Stockholm with her family, working in a top secret job at the Swedish Mail Censorship Office. Horrified and fascinated as world events unfolded, she kept a meticulous diary full of newspaper clippings (and occasional snippets from the letters...
Waiting on the shelf

Waiting on the shelf

When my wife and I married fourteen years ago, our two bookcases became one. It was a lopsided union. Roxanne had cultivated her book collection for years, saving everything she read, all the way back to a desiccated hardcover anthology of Czech short stories she’d liberated from her public library in high school. I, on...
Conquered

Conquered

The days and the weeks dragged on, and the months dragged on. The snow fell and melted and fell and melted and finally fell and stuck. The dark buildings of the little town wore bells and hats and eyebrows of white and there were trenches through the snow to the doorways. In the harbor the...
Climbing without a rope

Climbing without a rope

The ‘temporary gentleman’ in the title of Sebastian Barry’s latest novel is an Irishman commissioned into the British Army during the Second World War who looks back on past demons and a tumultuous marriage to the enigmatic beauty who slipped from his grasp. Here’s a slice of his writing day. Where are you now? At...
Brightness and shadows over Europe

Brightness and shadows over Europe

As everyone knows, it is a thousand times easier to reconstruct the facts of what happened at a certain time than its intellectual atmosphere. That atmosphere is reflected not in official events but, most conspicuously, in small, personal episodes of the kind that I am going to recount here. To be honest, I did not...