A Man of Contradictions: A Life of A. L. Rowse

By Richard Ollard

He proclaimed himself a genius and raged opposed to the slightest feedback from fellow students; he was once a Marxist who despised the 'Idiot People'; he will be beneficiant and affectionate but hurled insults at his buddies; he inveighed opposed to Puritanism yet used to be himself in lots of methods a Puritan: A. L. Rowse was once a guy of many contradictions.

In this clear-sighted and soaking up biography, Richard Ollard examines the numerous aspects of Rowse's Protean character to bare a guy who, no matter what he was once responding to - public affairs, the humanities, typical attractiveness or occasions in his own existence - did so with large strength and passion.

'An urbane examine of the prestigious historian.' Antonia Fraser, Daily Mail

'Strikes an ideal stability among the Jekyll Rowse and the Hyde Rowse.' Bevis Hillier, Spectator

'Excellent.' Katherine Duncan-Jones, TLS

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The Hexts at Trenarren appear … to were prolific. I seemed up their pedigree, following it again from the previous Colonel who used to be born in 1847 and survived to be a reputation in my adolescence as much as the warfare: final of the Hexts to dwell at Trenarren … the Colonel was once one among a band of six brothers and 5 sisters: they have to were an entire condo at Trenarren in these days. I fancy the voices of kids in that valley the place every little thing echoes. It offers me excitement to learn the entire names, the dates in their births, baptisms, marriage and burial. i can't say in what the fascination is composed: if purely i may, that will be to yield up the key of background. It has a few relation to lifestyles itself: as though Time is status nonetheless for a piece, and i'm observing lifestyles go by means of as in a reflect. it isn't, at its so much extreme, the folks themselves that I visualize: this different excitement doesn't happen at that point of expertise, yet at a deeper one: the place issues are much less differentiated. It methods extra the natural aesthetic adventure of song and poetry: the true (and in part mystery) values of my existence … No crowded relations of Hexts at Trenarren now. For years the home stood empty … Now new humans from South Africa live there: the home windows are opened once again to the sea-air and the scents of the shrubs and bushes (there is a eucalyptus-tree within the backyard, feather-plumed, for ever relocating from side to side with the least circulation of the wind). yet in a single feel, where is mine: it really is pointed out with my desires, the feel of my very own lifestyles. it's the condo of my mind's eye: the chimneys, the gate – i haven't been inside of – the place my father stopped the final time he used to be there and stated that even though i would stay there sometime he should not reside to determine it – the spring plant life, ferns and mosses within the crannies of the hedges, the sea-clouds crusing over the tops of the timber, and in all places the feel of the ocean. That passage used to be written eighteen months past in his rooms in any respect Souls, convalescing from influenza, guiltily turning the pages of Vivian’s Visitations of Cornwall whilst he felt that he must be at paintings on his publication. The nostalgia for a Cornwall he had by no means recognized, entwined with wish for Trenarren (‘my Naboth’s vineyard’) and resonant with self-reproach at absence from his father’s deathbed, and nonetheless keener grief on the lack of Charles Henderson deepened whenever he back. at the day prior to his operation Charles’s widow, Isobel, had written him in his personal phrases ‘a great letter, describing the pre-Waterloo surroundings’ of the Encaenia celebrations in any respect Souls. The epithet is easily deserved: it is a maddening sufficient planet while one’s guts are sound and very one can’t face it with a tummy long past Bolshevik. I simply desire that an effective digestive method won’t flip you Conservative. The All Souls celebration was once tremendous attractive, the lads outshining the ladies. The Codrington jam-packed with medical professionals’ gowns seemed like a few Handel opera. It was once the day of the Czech frontier incident: first Halifax was once referred to as away after which approximately nine.

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