The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor, by Jonathan Rose
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. . Pp. xii, 516. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN: 0300204078.
The Shaping of the Churchillian Style
Prof. Rose (Drew) explores how literature and theatre were woven into Churchill’s life, helping shape his political career, his oratorical skill, and his prodigious literary output.
He gives us a
look at the remarkably broad range of the man’s literary consumption,
as well as his interest in theatre. Churchill read very widely in
fiction, history, science, drama, philosophy, and more.
Rather unexpectedly, the impressive
array of authors
whom Churchill read ranged from
U.S. Grant, H.G. Wells, and Oscar Wilde, through Rider Haggard,
Sinclair Lewis, and Margaret Mitchell, not to mention numerous other classic authors as well as many now long forgotten ones.
As Rose follows Churchill from his youth to his final years, we see how the man’s readings influenced his ideas and the development of his own writing and oratorical style.
some surprising gems.
Churchill’s interest in melodrama
the roots of some of his greatest lines,
“blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”
In the process,
also gives us a look at the works
the most widely read literary figures of the twentieth century.
Churchill’s literary output was prodigious; over 40 books, several of them multi-volume works, of history, memoirs, biography, speeches, travel, even a novel, not to mention literally hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, essays, and more.
One can quibble with some of Rose’s conclusions.
attributes Churchill’s frequent theatrics as growing out of his early interest in theatre,
and his own participation in amateur dramatics, rather than to
his training as an officer, a profession
Alec Guinness once noted was much like acting; perhaps both should be considered.
The Literary Churchill
is an excellent addition to the numerous recent works on Sir Winston, throwing new light on his leadership style and the roots of his impressive literary output.
The Literary Churchill is also available in paperback, $25.00, ISBN 978-0-3002-1234-1, and there are several e-pub versions.
Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor
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