Clark, Kenneth. Another Part of the Wood: a Self Portrait. New York: Harper & Row, 1974.
Reason read: I am reading this in error. See BookLust Twist at bottom of review for explanation. By the way, April celebrates libraries and libraries mean books.
Kenneth Clark’s childhood reads like a demented fairy tale. He was brought up in Edwardian times when people ironed the newspapers and drank tea-time whiskies. His parent often left young Clark alone with the help while they spent their time living on yachts. As a child he gallivanted about the French Riviera, attended shooting parties and wandered music halls. But something happened when he reached the age of seven. Suddenly, works of art had the power to move him profoundly. He had the ability to recognize real talent. This exceptional gift developed with time, scholarship and good old fashioned experience until, at the young age of thirty, he was appointed Director of the National Gallery. After that, Clark fills his pages with a who’s who of artists and others he has met. It’s a fascinating story which Clark tells with such animation and enthusiasm.
As an aside, as I was reading Another Part of the Wood I was reminded of Kevin Spacey’s character, Francis Underwood, in the Netflix political drama “House of Cards.” Every once in a while Underwood breaks from character and looks into the camera to address his unseen viewing audience. Clark does this with footnotes and side comments with enough frequency to imply a certain concern for his reader’s opinion of him.
As another aside, I had to smile when Clark mentions his home in Grosvenor Square. How many other people thought of Robert Hunter or Adelai Stevenson when they read that? I instantly was reminded of scarlet begonias and a man telling his mistress not to walk so fast.
Quotes to quote, “Leigh spoke no foreign language correctly but, with his musical ear, he could make noises that sounded exactly like the language in question” (p 118), “I went to most of the concerts, and have been a little sniffy about other performances of Beethoven’s symphonies ever since” (p 158),
Author fact: Clark wrote a plethora of books. I am only reading this one.
Book trivia: There are a smattering of great photographs in Another Part of the Wood. My favorite is of Jane and the twins. She is looking at them as if to ask, “who are these creatures and why do I have them?”
Nancy said: Pearl quotes Clark in his love for the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (p 62).
BookLust Twist: erroneously from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed: 000s” (p 62). In the Dewey decimal system, 000 is where you will find books about books. In this category you will find Pearl’s own Book Lust. You would not, however, find Another Part of the Wood (it would be in the 700s for museums, the arts and such). Pearl includes Another Part of the Wood in the 000s because Clark loved his edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.