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Pickle Me This

November 27, 2007

Charming lunacy

I do hope that India Knight and Andrew O’Hagan are still friends, even though they’re no longer an item. Only because O’Hagan’s piece in the LRB and Knight’s latest column are so complementary– and particularly timely as I’ve just started reading The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters.

In his review of the book O’Hagan gets Mitfordness just right: “Never… have sentences appeared so rhythmically in tune with a sense of the ridiculous, or so ready to snigger at the disaster of common beliefs. In that the sense the book is a masterpiece– it contains the DNA of a national style– and in the future people will read it to understand both the charming lunacy of English manners and how a singular mode of self-hood could shape the language.”

And India Knight bemoans the end of letters, writing: “This is a plea for a return to pen and paper. Admittedly I am almost fetishistic in my love of stationery but there is nevertheless a real pleasure to be had in writing someone a proper letter and in taking care over it. And it’s likely to end up, well-thumbed and cherished, in some cache of effects for your grandchildren to find – as opposed to expiring when your computer does, lost for ever, disposable and ultimately meaningless.”

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