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Eccentricity exists particularly in the English, states Dame Edith Sitwell, because of “that peculiar and satisfactory knowledge of infallibility that is the hallmark and the birthright of the British nation.” Originally published in 1933, The English Eccentrics has lost none of its vitality and wit. We find hermits, quacks, mariners, indefatigable travelers, and men of learning. We meet the amphibious Lord Rokeby, whose beard reached his knees and who seldom left his bath; the irascible Captain Thicknesses, who left his right hand, to be cut off after his death, to his son Lord Audley; and Curricle Coats, the Gifted Amateur, whose suit was sewn with diamonds and whose every performance ended in uproar. This is a glorious gallery of the extremes of human nature, portrayed with humor, sympathy, knowledge, and love.—Goodreads.com. [Suggest a different description.]
Author Bio for Sitwell, Edith
Edith Sitwell (1887-1964)
Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell, was a British poet and critic and the eldest of the three literary Sitwells. Sitwell published poetry continuously from 1913, some of it abstract and set to music. Her early work was often experimental, creating melody, using striking conceits, new rhythms, and confusing private allusions. With her dramatic style and exotic costumes, she was sometimes labelled a poseur, but her work was praised for its solid technique and painstaking craftsmanship.
“Still Falls the Rain” about the London Blitz, remains perhaps her best-known poem set to music by Benjamin Britten. Façade is a series of poems in which the poems are recited over an instrumental accompaniment by William Walton.
Sitwell wrote two books about Queen Elizabeth I of England: Fanfare for Elizabeth (1946) and The Queens and the Hive (1962). She always claimed that she wrote prose simply for money and both these books were extremely successful, as were her English Eccentrics (1933) and Victoria of England (1936).
Robert K. Martin summed up Sitwell’s literary career in Dictionary of Literary Biography: “Sitwell’s reputation has suffered from the exceptional success of Façade, which was often treated as if it were the only work she had ever written. Inadequate attention has been paid to her development as a social poet, as a religious poet, and as a visionary. Her career traces the development of English poetry from the immediate post-World War I period of brightness and jazzy rhythms through the political involvements of the 1930s and the return to spiritual values after World War II. Her technique evolved, and, although she always remained a poet committed to the exploration of sound, she came to use sound patterns as an element in the construction of deep philosophic poems that reflect on her time and on man’s condition. . . . She remains one of the most important voices of twentieth-century English poetry.”
Sources: poetryfoundation.org; britannica.com
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