Rudyard Kipling | Contributor Namy | Taking it easy | Bathroom matters | Lambs’ lives
I was delighted that Ian Jack made a visit to Rudyard Kipling’s home, Bateman’s, in light of Boris Johnson’s recent “gaffe” reciting a Kipling poem in Myanmar (Opinion, 7 October). I have worked at this beautiful house nestled in Sussex; the many Indian visitors to it have huge respect for the writer, and children in India still read his poems and stories at school. We learn and enjoy words from writers of the past whether we agree with their politics or not.
• So Rafael Behr is now writing as Contributor Namy (Opinion [printed version], 11 October). Continue reading...
(Toby Wood), Peterborough
Theodora Wilson Wilson’s anti-war novel The Last Weapon was published in 1916 and banned a year later, writes Rae Street
Not all books were banned for their possible salacious content (Letters, 2 October). In 1916, Theodora Wilson Wilson, a Quaker and a pacifist, published a novel, The Last Weapon, which made a powerful statement against war. It was so popular that it was reprinted three times in 1916. Theodora depicted fictional characters who represented the arms trade, the imperialists, the hypocritical politicians and people of the church. She even predicted a weapon of mass destruction, which was, its proponents claimed, a superior weapon that would defeat the enemy: Hellite. It could be Trident. The book’s message as it flew round the country would have stopped recruitment. By 1917, the government had banned the book.
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NHS chant | Relocating libraries | Ryanair | Unsplit infinitives
I don’t know which is more appalling – that Paul Watson, NHS England’s regional director for the Midlands and East of England, demanded that hospital trust chief executives chant “we can do this” (improve their A&E performance) (Report, 26 September), or that the chief executives apparently complied with this demand and didn’t protest about it till afterwards.
• When Worthing got its new library in the early 1970s members were encouraged to take out as many books as they liked. They could then bring them back to the new building which saved us a lot of backache. The shelves in the old library were soon empty except one that contained the complete works of Proust (Letters, 28 September). Continue reading...
Milborne Port, Somerset
Rereading Proust | Corpses’ underwear | Passing on clutter | Birds at meetings | Split infinitives | The far right
Reading Remembrance of Things Past all the way through is not enough to appreciate Proust’s masterpiece (Letters, 26 September). You need to read it a second time in the light of the events in the last volume, particularly the account of the meal at which characters from the previous eleven volumes reappear. The second reading is an entirely different experience, knowing what would happen later to each of the characters. And yes, I have.
• Re Dead casual: why corpses are dressing down (25 September), having just buried the second of my parents, I wrestled with this dilemma; do you put underwear on a corpse? I sent Dad off wearing pants but Mum went commando. What is the etiquette for underclothing on the dead? Continue reading...
JK Rowling’s former English teacher Lucy Shepherd
defends her crime writing skills in The Cuckoo’s Calling after a review of TV adaptation
Cormoran Strike comes to life in this adaptation of JK Rowling’s foray into crime (The Cuckoo’s Calling review, Last night’s TV, 28 August). JK Rowling, writing as Robert K Galbraith, is at the top of her game with the crime fiction genre. The Cuckoo’s Calling is literary 10-pin bowling at its finest: an assured hand guides the riveting story-ball, every plot-twisting pin laid out in the resounding finale. Strike!
However, “I haven’t read any of the crime novels JK Rowling has written … but it is easy to imagine the problems she might encounter plonking a down-on-his-luck private investigator into contemporary London …” writes reviewer Tim Dowling about Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling after episode one on Sunday night. Continue reading...
When will the Guardian push the boat out for new, young and promising writers, wonders John Green
Amit Chaudhuri’s sharp critique of the annual prize-winning circus that is the Booker prize was refreshingly courageous (The long read, 16 August). As we know, the demise of smaller publishers and the resulting domination of the field of literature by multinational book-producing factories has also spelt the demise of literary editors who, in the past, nurtured new talent and were willing to go against the grain of market predictions. But the Guardian itself is guilty of promoting exactly the circus Chaudhuri is critiquing. Not only do you give the Booker and other literary competitions undue coverage, but in the choice of authors you promote and book reviews you publish, you recycle the same few “big” authors who have already profited from the marketing of their work. When will you perhaps attempt ...
English dialects | George Osborne and Michael Gove in Bayreuth | Belting singers | Lifeboats on the Thames | Frequent letter writers
As someone born on the other side of the Erewash Valley to DH Lawrence, I still recognise much of the dialect in his poem The Collier’s Wife (For better or verse: poets geg in on a gurt plan to celebrate regional dialect, 11 August) from a childhood in the Notts and Derby coalfield. “Tha’rt a mard-arsed kid”, “stop thy scraightin’, childt” and “hardly a smite o’ trouble”, along with “O” for you and “sorry” or “surry”, meaning mate, in the sentence “Wheer’s O bin, surry” – long may dialects and accents be nurtured.
South Wonston, Winchester
• I wonder whether George Osborne and Michael Gove were in Bayreuth (Betrayal and power at heart of Tories’ operatic night out, 11 August) picking up ...