Tuesday, July 13, 2010

T. H. White waxes ordinary

Another delectable morsel from a book world gone by -- from a 1936 hardcover of T. H. White's "England Have My Bones" comes this charming introductory explanation of the contents:
This book cannot pretend to be written by a naturalist, and it is not for naturalists. It is a book about things, for people who have lost them; because it has given me pleasure to rediscover my things, and I should like to shew them to other people who might be pleased as well.

It has turned into a book about the tangible side of country life. People, I felt, ought to pay more attention to the temperature of their baths, and the way they fill their pipes, and the birds who are squandering their song for a chance audience, and the spectacles of nature that give food for the pleasures of rumination, and the construction of fires, and the time to drink sherry, and the season at which a hot water bottle improves upon the comfort of warming one's own bed. In fact, it is an empirical book, an effort to return to the various world. Sport is a good way of doing that.

At the same time, I am sorry to feel that it must be a book which requires apology, or at least explanation. Fishermen will be maddened by the flying, aviators by the snakes, zoologists by the instructions for playing darts. It may seem a fair criticism to say that too many things are done, and none of them expertly.

No comments:

Post a Comment