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79 REVIEW Michael Hastings. The Handsomest Young Man In England: Rupert Brooke. London: Michael Joseph, 1967. E2. 10s. Michael Hastings' Intention In producing this book was to show "why, after fifty years, something of Rupert Brooke still lasts" (p. 62). He justifies Its appearance so soon after Christopher Hassall's full-length biography by criticising the picture of Brooke which emerges from Hassall's work. He wants to demolish the myth, see Brooke through his poetry and letters and put his relationships with his contemporaries Into a right perspective. It Is strange, therefore, that Hastings' book should have every appearance of perpetuating the myth: It Is extravagantly produced with unusual format and artistic type-setting; Its glossy dustcover bears an enlarged copy of one of Schell's romantic photographs of Brooke on the front and a picture of the memorial plaque in Rugby Chapel on the back. The title, though actually a quotation from Yeats, suggests considerable panache. Neither Is there a lack of emphasis on the kind of detail that has made Brooke Into a legendary figure: the poet Is described coming "out of 10 Downing Street, blazing with a bright orange cravat" (p. 58). or writing a book to "be Inscribed In crimson Ink on green paper" (p. 72). It Is, In fact, a production which Brooke, the myth, would have delighted In. Hastings* book Is, In a way, a rather personal one. It Is an account of his own search for Brooke. It begins In a school, but the school Is Hastings', not Brooke's; It goes on to Cambridge, but the Cambridge of i960 and Hastings* visit there, not the Cambridge of I9Ö6 when Brooke and his friends were undergraduates. The whole book appears to be written round the picture of Brooke as Hastings wants to see him, yet the truth is that the picture which emerges Is little different from that which has emerged from other comments on Brooke. Nothing very new has been discovered or presented, except for the firm assertion (which those of us Interested In Brooke already suspected) that a number of people are keeping letters and Information about Brooke to themselves . All this said, The Handsomest Young Man In England Is, nevertheless , a fascinating book, not because of what Michael Hastings writes, but because of the pictures he has collected together. With the exception of some dozen or so pages, every page (there are 235 of them) contains one or more pictures and many consecutive pages bear nothing but pictures. The book gives one the slight Impression of being a Georgian photograph album and as such It has Its own appeal. The text can be read In a short afternoon; the proliferation of photographs will take longer to absorb. University of Leicester Hilda D. Spear ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
p. 79
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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