We all have comfort books that we revisit from time to time. One of mine is George Orwell’s collection ‘Inside the Whale & Other Essays’, a book I revisited the other day in response to a comment that Tolstoy was not a particular fan of Shakespeare. The collection includes ‘Lear, Tolstoy & the Fool’, a simple yet brilliant deconstruction of Tolstoy’s carping criticisms of the Bard. Here it is here.
It’s not my favourite essay in the collection though – that place (just pipping ‘Shooting an Elephant’ to the post – sorry King Juan Carlos) is reserved for ‘Politics & the English Language’, which is as true in its insight into the condition of the English language today as it was in 1946, surely the hallmark of a timeless classic. Here it is here.
Then of course there are other giants of the art such as William Hazlitt, Charles Lamb, Thomas Carlyle, G.K. Chesterton, Michel De Montaigne and Francis Bacon to name just a few… but my all time favourite essay and comfort read is Stevenson’s ‘Apology for Idlers’ – good to know we’re appreciated! Here it is here – happy reading!