Commonplace book 1939 – 1989

I have been going through my father’s commonplace book which starts in 1939 with an extended extract from Point Counter Point (about 3000 words – why would he transcribe at such length?) and ends some fifty years later with a newspaper clipping of a short piece by Eric Silver about Ezer Weizman.

These are the earliest entries:

Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley – dirty postcards, Bach, Beethoven and the meaning of life would be a factual description of some topics covered in the aforementioned long extract

Extract from Decline and Fall of the Romantic Ideal by F.L.Lucasabout Dadaism

From The Waste Land Part lll by T S Eliot – At the violet hour…

Hysteria from Collected Poems 1909 -1935 of T.S.Eliot  – With (sic) added after the word Poems. Was this dad’s psedo-philistinism or linguistic pedantry in relation to this ‘prose poem’?

The Hippopotamus, T.S.Eliot – of hippos and the True Church

Extract from Fragment of an Agon, T.S.Eliot – of crocodile isles and bamboo trees

Extract from The Ascent of F6, by W H Auden and Christopher Isherwood …I tell you, he’d give his rarest flower/ Merely to breathe for one more hour…

Then three newspaper clippings:

  • Il Corriere Del Sabato quoting a broadcast of 2 October 1945 made to Italian Prisoners’ of War in Great Britain by, if I have read his writing correctly, Conte Carandini (my father was in Italy at the end of WWll and I presume he got the newspaper there)
  • The Jewish Chronicle’s Personal notices of 23 November 1945 with three relatives of a deceased person sending thanks for condolences from three different pubs. Were they the landlords, which presumably my dad would have thought a most unusual thing for yidden, or did bombed-out people use pubs as a form of forwarding address?
  • A quote from The New Statesman and Nation, 20 April 1946, featuring a sickeningly sexist comment from a Parliamentary debate:

only a merciful and complete suspension of judgment on the part of the male enables the human race to perpetuate itself

This gives a flavour of the subsequent entries with their focus on literature and religion and his admiration for powerful, witty writing.  Fast forwarding to 1970, a book review in The Times by Dennis Potter of The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross nicely encapsulates this and dad has merely added – Brilliant writing! 


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