'Ours is the first era in history in which enthusiasm is widely suspect, and expression of it even more so,' writes Bernard Levin, and he thinks this is a poor state of affairs. When it comes to food he even gets letters of passionate complaint, condemning not his tatse, but the very fact he enjoys food and makes his enjoyment known. What makes these readers irate? Hatred of pleasure may be, for some, an end in itself - a puritan smugness conveying its own dreary reward. But if Bernard Levin is right, there may be a potential for enthusiasm in people who for too long have found it difficult to articulate such feelings. Perhaps what they need to unleash this potential is a book of the unbridled, unashamed enthusiasms of another person. We may not be, like Levin, incurable book-sniffers or page-cracklers, but no lover of books could fail to sympathise with his discussion of all the pleasures of reading. He makes a choice of favourite paintings in cities around the world and in Venice, where his choice is so wide it becomes unbearable. Cities themselves are among his great loves, though travelling to them is unspeakably awful. Given Levin's self-confessed erratic sense of direction, it is interesting that walking should bring him such consistent pleasure and the question of singing while walking (restricted to country walks) is an important one: Rossini is excellent to walk to; the Rheingold prelude is not; Mozart is god in high hills early on a clear morning. No one will be surprised to find a chapter about music, and in this one he also addresses the strangeness and absurdity of the fact that composers ever devised the miraculous experience at all. The immeasurable enjoyment of Shakespeare is savoured with recollections of past productions, from the excitements of Wolfit's notorious season at the Bedord Music Hall and Olivier's Hotspur with the Old Vic to Peter Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream and beyond. On that touchy subject of food, Levin leads us through tantalizing memories of his grandmother's chren and cherry brandy and his mother's chopped liver and her own speciality, 'Rosie's luttkes', past the gastronomically horrifying war-time diet in an English public school, and on to delicacies which should only be read about with a padlock on the refrigerator. In passing we learn of a passion for fire which, if he were criminally minded, could turn Levin to arson, and hitherto unpublished reasons for adoring cats. Furthermore this is as close, Levi has said, as he will ever come to writing an autobiography. Enthusiasms is revealing, funny, stimulating and surprising. It may also cause a revolutionary breakthrough in the art of enjoying ourselves.
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Descripción Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1983. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. First Edition. Nº de ref. de la librería DADAX0224021141