Friday, 6 August 2010


Penguin porn, ubiquitous right now
I've got big issues with England and Englishness, but reading Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End tetralogy this summer, I felt the first pangs of a rapprochement.

I've never had a problem with marginal, radical facets of English culture. But somewhere in the following passage - a vision experienced by protagonist Christopher Tietjens in the WWI trenches - there is a nigh-on orthodox English identity I feel like I might be able to get on board with, one day. This worries me slightly. Maybe I've just been seduced by the fine filigree of the prose. But this is no excuse.

But what chance had Anglican sainthood, accuracy of thought, heavy-leaved, timbered hedge-rows, slowly creeping plough-lands moving up the slopes? ... Still, the land remains ...

The land remains ... It remains! ... At that same moment the dawn was wetly revealing; over there in George Herbert's parish ... What was it called? ... What the devil was its name? Oh hell, between Salisbury and Wilton ... The tiny church ... But he refused to consider the plough-lands, the heavy groves, the slow high-road above the church that the dawn was at that moment wetly revealing - until he could remember that name ... He refused to consider that, probably even to-day, that land ran to ... produced the stock of ... Anglican sainthood. The quiet thing!
The name Bemerton suddenly came on to his tongue. Yes, Bemerton, Bemerton, Bemerton was George Herbert's parsonage. Bemerton, outside Salisbury ... The cradle of the race as far as our race was worth thinking about. He imagined himself standing up on a little hill, a lean contemplative parson, looking at the land sloping down to Salisbury spire. A large, clumsily bound seventeenth-century testament, Greek, beneath his elbow ... Imagine standing up on a hill! It was the unthinkable thing there!

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