Ian Hamilton

Here are some quotations from my week’s reading – see if you can place them, or at any rate make a guess at where they might be from. 1. ‘I cannot exaggerate my seriousness about the trivialities of life, lack of know-how, nervousness, shyness – coupled, though of course it is hard to judge how effectively, with masks designed to hide my deficiencies.’ 2. ‘It is by thinking myself back into the person I was then, that I can enter imaginatively into the thoughts and feelings of the fanatic, for instance the committed revolutionary, the persecutor, the gauleiter, the commissar. Perhaps I should be grateful.’ 3. ‘We all know that it is self-centred and dangerous to concentrate too much on becoming prime minister or on making a fortune, but are there no analogous dangers in concentrating on one’s own spiritual progress? Is not a life spent in fighting self-centredness itself self-centred? The problem will always haunt me ... In my own case there is the whole area of family life, duty and love, where my own performance, though it might pass muster externally, could be vastly improved.’

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[1] Souvenirs by Roy Fuller. London Magazine Editions, 1980. Souvenirs was reviewed here by Frank Kermode (Vol.2, No 10).

[2] Vamp till ready: Further Memoirs by Roy Fuller. London Magazine Editions, 185 pp., £8.50, 24 June, 0 904388 45 X.

[3] These the Companions by Donald Davie. Cambridge, 220 pp., £12.50, 5 August, 0 521 24511 7. To be reviewed here by Christopher Ricks.

[4] Diary of a Year by Lord Longford. Weidenfeld, 234 pp., £10, 5 August, 0 297 78049 2.

[5] The Chelsea Story by John Moynihan. Arthur Barker, 173 pp., £5.95, 19 August, 0 213 16823 5.