The durability of things and of cultures intrigues me; and particularly when those artefacts are themselves physically fragile or insubstantial.

Here, Adam Nicolson demonstrates that durability need not be carved in stone; in many cases it is simply continuing relevance that keeps it alive and ultimately makes it more durable than rock-built structures.

Nicolson is a superb writer and his Mighty Dead is the boldest and most far-reaching of his books; see the bestellar review complete with a mosaic of quotations and metaphors.  See also the ringing review of his Sea Room, similarly peppered with illustrated quotes.

‘Nothing is more insubstantial than poetry. It has no body, and yet it persists with its subtleties whole and its sense of the reality of the human heart uneroded while the palace of which this fresco was a part lies under the thick layer of ash from its burning in 1200 BC. Nothing with less substance than epic, nothing more lasting. Homer, in a miracle of transmission from one end of human civilization to the other, continues to be as alive as anything that has ever lived.’

Source: Adam Nicolson, The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters (London: William Collins, 2015), p. xx

Photo credit: EliFrancis at


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest