Sunday, 29 August 2010
My copy is second hand, published in 1953, and very battered, so I decided against a scan of the cover and settled for the title page with the image by Robert Gibbings himself. The book is beautifully illustrated throughout with his own wood engravings.
I wasn't at all sure what to expect of this book, I'll freely admit that I was completely swayed by the title.
The title is of course misleading to a large extent. Never judge judge a book by its cover - or its title. But it does have some bearing on the subject matter and besides, the book is a total delight once you stop expecting a travelogue. It is almost like a stream of consciousness, the thoughts meandering through the author's mind as he follows the Seine from its source to the sea (with occasional massive detours). Added to the captivating narrative, you can enjoy the illustrations created by the author himself. A book that can be read over and over again.
Coming Down the Seine is still available at Amazon.co.uk and at Amazon.com.
Saturday, 20 February 2010
It's a fast read by virtue of the fact that it's very short but I don't really think you'd call it a page-turner. Its main appeal has to be the unusual link with mathematics. That, however, floats cheerfully somewhere over my head, leaving me thinking, hmmm.
Saturday, 30 January 2010
If you know any of William Blake's poetry, it's likely to be "The Tiger":
Tiger, tiger, burning brightBecause of the title of the novel, you would be excused for thinking you were going to learn something about Blake, but in reality he is one of the minor characters. The remaining characters lack much depth and are rather stereotypical, and the accents they are given are frankly irritating. Country bumpkin versus Cockney.
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
On the other hand, the book does portray London vividly and historically accurately. There is a real sense of place which may be just the thing to accompany a trip to the city.