Category Archives: Books

Waugh on the merits

Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh was born in 1903 to upper-middle-class Anglicans who lived in a suburb of London. He attended a boarding secondary school (Lancing College), read history at Oxford, published his first book (a biography of the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti) at age twenty-four, then his first novel a year later. Waugh married that same year (1928), divorced after two years, and converted to Catholicism. After the first marriage was declared null, he married a Catholic by whom he had seven children. He served honorably but ineffectively as an infantry officer in World War II, and was to publish thirteen novels, as well as seven travel books, three biographies, a volume of autobiography, and numerous essays and book reviews. Lionized in the 1920s as a trendy man of fashion, he became increasingly conservative in politics and churchmanship and notorious for his truculent contempt for the sham enthusiasms of modernity. He died on Easter Sunday, 1966, at his house in Somerset. Read on…

The Break-Up of Australia

Those of us who had serious reservations about the logic of the Mabo jugdment and where it would lead have been justified in our fears by the stage at which some Australians of Aboriginal ancestry (AOAAs) have brought their political campaign. Keith Windshuttle in his book The Break-Up of Australia (below) has shown just how far we other Australians have come in surrendering our country to a superior cast who feed on the toil of a servant population. The facts and statistics are frightening. If Australians don’t do anything else, they should at least read the two excerpts of the book Quadrant published . 

Australians are not being told the truth about the proposal for constitutional recognition of indigenous people. The goal of Aboriginal political activists today is to gain ‘sovereignty’ and create a black state, equivalent to the existing states. Its territory, com­prising all land defined as native title, will soon amount to more than 60 per cent of the whole Australian continent. Constitutional recognition, if passed, would be its ‘launching pad’.

As Quadrant’s Keith Windschuttle details in The Break-Up of Australia, recognition will not make our nation com­plete — it will divide us permanently.

Buy the book here.

Read the first of two excerpts: The Break-Up of Australia: Part I  
& Part II

Enid Blyton: The writer’s 10 finest children’s books

Enid Blyton, the popular children’s writer, died 50 years ago this week.

Astonishingly prolific, the author composed some 700 books between 1922, when she published her poetry collection Child Whispers, and her death in Hampstead on 28 November 1968, often rattling out 6,000 words a day at the typewriter.

She has sold more than 600 million books, which have never gone out of print, been translated into 90 languages and enjoyed a loyal following among young readers for generations, her characters from the Famous Five to Noddy capturing the imagination and inspiring a taste for adventure.

But Blyton has also been heavily criticised. The BBC refused to dramatise her output during her lifetime on the grounds she was a “second-rater”, while she has been derided for the patriarchal assumptions, snobbery and xenophobia evident in her novels and mocked as a conservative relic of a Britain that no longer exists. Read on…

Roger Scruton on Newspeak and the manipulation of language

Most leftist activists aligned themselves with different interpretations of Marxism (Trotskyist, Maoism among others). By the 1960s, after the Russians crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956, New Left ideas began to modify their Marxist vision. For an explanation of the fundamentals of New Left thinking, so important to the growing hegemony of the left, I will draw on philosopher Roger Scruton’s work. Before doing so, I want to cover the basics of classical Marxism to put the developments into context.

The core of Marxist theory is that any society is made up of an economic base (the forces of production and production relations) and a superstructure of laws, government, conventions, customs, art and so on. The base determines the superstructure of government. The economic base is not static. According to Marx’s key concept of dialectical materialism, a society will experience a clash of classes between those in power and those exploited. The clash will result in a new economic order and a new superstructure determined by that order. This is the working out of the dialectic process. The clash of classes will go onto until classes cease to exist, and people live in a socialist paradise where the alienation of the worker from his essence as a human person will dissolve. Marx claimed we are at this time in the final phase of the clash of classes: capitalists (the exploiters) with the proletariat or workers (the exploited).

Continue reading Roger Scruton on Newspeak and the manipulation of language

‘Brideshead Revisited changed my life’

by Rob Weinert-Kendt

I am not quite sure how it happened, but by the age of 13 I was a blissfully indiscriminate Anglophile—a devotee of Jane Austen, “Doctor Who,” Monty Python and the Beatles. The summer of my first teen year, I didn’t just wake up in the wee hours to watch the televised wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer; I dutifully recorded the audio of some of it on a small tape deck for easy replay. When “Chariots of Fire” surprisingly won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1982, it felt like a personal triumph.

It was in that impressionable state that “Brideshead Revisited” entered, and changed, my life. The 11-part television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s great novel aired weekly on PBS, the main supplier of my Brit fixes, and I sat gape-jawed at it, drinking it all in, even as its narrative took turns I didn’t understand at the time (some of which I still wrestle with, in different ways). The book soon became a beloved talisman as well. And while my initial attraction was the usual aesthetic one—the accents, the clothes, the vintage motorcars—the novel’s deeper strands wove themselves indelibly into my own story.

Continue reading ‘Brideshead Revisited changed my life’

David Marr: The left’s purveyor of calumny par excellence

David Marr’s Quarterly Essays on Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell have been among the most politically damaging of any writing that has come from the left. They have been damaging not because Marr mounts irresistible argument backed by unassailable evidence. No, they were damaging  because of Marr’s considerable talent as a writer  – a postmodernist writer with the creative power of a skilled novelist. Marr is a writer of ‘faction’ – fiction that is presented as fact. I make my case for Marr’s status as a postmodernist writer of ‘faction’ in chapter 13 of my just released ebook TONY ABBOTT AND THE TIMES OF REVOLUTION (paperback due February 2019).

Nobody has been more scathing of David Marr’s ‘political analysis’ than Gerard Henderson of the Sydney Institute. Below is his devastating critique in Media Watchdog No. 343 of Marr’s essay on Cardinal Pell. 

Continue reading David Marr: The left’s purveyor of calumny par excellence

Enid Blyton: 50 years after her death

Enid Blyton and her writing went through a bad period when the left had almost full control of the media. They dismissed her as a untalented purveyor of the West’s oppressive bourgeois capitalist society. It’s gratifying to see in recent times just tribute being paid to one of the greatest of children’s storytellers in English. 

Enid Blyton, the popular children’s writer, died 50 years ago this week.

Astonishingly prolific, the author composed some 700 books between 1922, when she published her poetry collection Child Whispers, and her death in Hampstead on 28 November 1968, often rattling out 6,000 words a day at the typewriter.

She has sold more than 600 million books, which have never gone out of print, been translated into 90 languages and enjoyed a loyal following among young readers for generations, her characters from the Famous Five to Noddy capturing the imagination and inspiring a taste for adventure.  Read on...

UK Spectator’s books of the year

Andrew Motion

Regular reviewers choose the best — and most overrated — books of 2018

Short stories seem to fare better in the US than the UK, and among this year’s rich crop, Deborah Eisenberg’s Your Duck is My Duck (Ecco, £20.70) is outstanding.
Everything about Eisenberg’s writing is highly controlled — watchful, well-made — and everything it describes teeters on the verge of chaos or collapse. It makes for a brilliant mixture of a book — at once compact and capacious, eerily familiar and extremely strange.

Roger Lewis

One of my favourite authors is Laura Thompson. Her biographies of sundry Mitfords, of Agatha Christie and Lord Lucan (recently revised in the light of the unpleasant Countess’s demise) are brilliant and forensic. This year she published a memoir of her grandmother, The Last Landlady (Unbound, £16.99), which is a typically eclectic mix of social history and elegy, ironic comedy and indelible Englishness. It is about the pub as theatre, and like everything else worth cherishing, pubs are closing down — replaced with gender-neutral lavatories, compulsory veganism and virtue-signalling teetotalism.

A Hero for High Times (Cape, £16.99), Ian Marchant’s account of being a wild old hippie with a bucket for a toilet in a copse on the Welsh Marches, made me laugh.

Matthew Sturgis’s biography of Oscar Wilde, Oscar: A Life (Head of Zeus, £25) made me furious. How idiotic to trail this book as putting Richard Ellmann right, when it is full of copycat flourishes. Ellmann, for example, in 1987, called Bosie Douglas ‘totally spoiled, reckless, insolent and, when thwarted, fiercely vindictive’. Sturgis now says Bosie was ‘selfish, spoilt, vain, intemperate, needy and demanding’. It is like a bad translation.  Read on…