Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Left Hand, Right Hand! by Osbert Sitwell

Difficult for me to add much as a reviewer but it is a fascinating glimpse into an aristocratic family and the Victorian-era childhood of Sir Osbert Sitwell. For a reader in 2020, the high style of the writing can be almost as challenging as Shakespearian verse to move through. Long, meandering sentences with colons, semi-colons, dashes, and ellipses, and loaded with vocabulary so rich, you might feel like you're coming down with verbal gout. Sir Sitwell is highly perceptive of nature, his family history, and the artistic scene at the time. The final chapter of the book focuses on a family portrait painted by John Singer Sargent. The portrait was a sign of status for the parents but the childhood glimpse of the great artist by a young Osbert and his sister Edith influenced them later in life to become artists in their own right. I'll have to let this one sit for a while before I decide on whether I have the stamina to read the other five volumes. In any case, I'm glad there were writers like Osbert Sitwell with his sensibilities about the world giving us a slice of life that must now sound like an alien world to an audience a little more than a hundred years later.

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