Fine writing, fine doing

Fine writing, fine doing

My earliest impressions of Keats were as a languishing poetic type, not a man of action.  Now, after getting to know him through his letters (among the best I have read), he comes across as a vital, life-loving and out-stepping person, even though destroyed by illness...
The law of life

The law of life

We need water for life, and life and water share a fundamental law: change.  They may also share another, apparently contradictory quality, that of being always different and yet somehow the same. ‘The law of life was also the law of water – everlasting...
Of life, lovers, spaniels and sympathy

Of life, lovers, spaniels and sympathy

Orlando’s four hundred year span seems to boil down to the search for Life, Love and Authorship.  Here she is learning that lovers aplenty may not be enough to provide either Life or Love (let alone Authorship). This is not the first time that it is to a dog she...
Affluence of life and certainty of flow

Affluence of life and certainty of flow

How about that for a well-wishing phrase to fling into the world!  May you enjoy both affluence of life and certainty of flow, as the strong, fine, kind Diana does.   One of the most attractive characters in this book. Shame about the brother, though he did, after...
Gladness and despair

Gladness and despair

A finely phrased evocation of the twin elements of human experience of time, every new morning or moment heralding good or bad for somebody somewhere.  We can only work towards increasing and making the most of ‘new forces’ for gladness, genius and love....
Defining moments

Defining moments

It has always interested me how life can turn on a sixpence, for better and worst.  Adam Bede is one of the finest English novels, and it has a number of moments when events take a fateful turn.  Here we have Adam recalling – all his life – exactly where...
Will to live or fear of death?

Will to live or fear of death?

This refers to the looming death of the Brideshead patriarch, surrounded by his family. I was struck by the implication that the will to live gives strength, while the fear of death drains it. If you extend that, it might suggest that people are more motivated by...
Evidence of life?

Evidence of life?

This response by Charles Ryder to his wife’s question is striking.  While change is inevitable, I am not sure it is ‘evidence of life’.  The dead also change. Yet given the state of his marriage when his wife posed the question, and the...
On the practice of life

On the practice of life

Alice Herz-Sommer was a pianist also believed to be the oldest Holocaust survivor, living to 110.  She combined an astonishing resilience and a passion for music, and the discipline of the piano she applies adroitly to the business of life. ‘The artist’s job is...

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