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Black Lamb and Grey Falcon By Rebecca West Christopher Hitchens,

  • Title: Black Lamb and Grey Falcon
  • Author: Rebecca West Christopher Hitchens
  • ISBN: 9780143104902
  • Page: 106
  • Format: Paperback
  • Written on the brink of World War II, Rebecca West s classic examination of the history, people, and politics of Yugoslavia illuminates a region that is still a focus of international concern A magnificent blend of travel journal, cultural commentary, and historical insight, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon probes the troubled history of the Balkans and the uneasy relationshipsWritten on the brink of World War II, Rebecca West s classic examination of the history, people, and politics of Yugoslavia illuminates a region that is still a focus of international concern A magnificent blend of travel journal, cultural commentary, and historical insight, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon probes the troubled history of the Balkans and the uneasy relationships among its ethnic groups The landscape and the people of Yugoslavia are brilliantly observed as West untangles the tensions that rule the country s history as well as its daily life.
    Black Lamb and Grey Falcon Written on the brink of World War II Rebecca West s classic examination of the history people and politics of Yugoslavia illuminates a region that is still a focus of international concern A magnif

    One thought on “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon”

    1. Writing a five star review full of superlatives is always difficult for people who haven t read it yet, there s no way any book can live up to the kind of praise that someone who loves it wants to give out And so I really need to marshal my thoughts here, because I genuinely believe that Black Lamb and Grey Falcon is one of the three or four greatest books published in the twentieth century, and I want to make sure I present my case as well as I can I say three or four just to cover myself in th [...]

    2. On June 15, 1389, the armies of the Serbs and the Ottoman Turks were to meet on the fields of Kosovo A battle that decisive and so far removed from our present would naturally have legends swirling around it, and West carves out two of them in the title The black lamb is a symbol of sacrifice, designed to be as primeval and threatening to us as the idea of Moloch and The Wicker Man.The other story is of the grey falcon, a sort of Christian Faust story, where the Prophet Elijah came down in that [...]

    3. Google keeps blanking out on the title, but there s a Ford Madox Ford novel where the main character hears about a friend s engagement and asks himself why any man would choose to get married Then he comes up with a generous explanation well, he thinks, maybe the careful study of one woman gives you a sort of map of all the rest.See, that s just crazy enough to work Not that I ve ever tried the experiment myself, but in my better moments, I can almost understand the logic I m not even talking ab [...]

    4. I think I only bought this book because it looked fat, plain and unappreciated on the bookshop shelf It still is fat and plain but is at least occasionally enjoyed on my shelf.West s prejudices are plain pro Yugoslavia and pro Serb which on the whole means you can take them into account as you are reading.Some of her attitudes come across as overly simplistic maybe even naive for instance her characterisation of the young thrusting Serb states at various points in history contrasted with flabby, [...]

    5. Hatred comes before love, and gives the hater strange and delicious pleasures, but its works are short lived the head is cut from the body before the time of natural death, the lie is told to frustrate the other rogue s plan before it comes to fruit Sooner or later society tires of making a mosaic of these evil fragments and even if the rule of hatred lasts some centuries it occupies no place in real time, it is a hiatus in reality, and not the vastest material thefts, not world wide raids on mi [...]

    6. A few years ago I read The Return of the Soldier, the first novel of Rebecca West, the pen name of Cicely Isabel Fairfield I quite liked it, but not nearly enough to pursue the author any further But earlier this year, on the recommendation of another blogger, I bought Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, one of her later books.At almost 1200 pages it s quite a tome, too heavy and too big even for my shoulder bag, which contains all sorts of fripperies But I ve been reading it in bite sized chunks since [...]

    7. I imagine this book and I will be together on and off for some months, like a Proust project But from everything I ve heard, I very much look forward to it.

    8. Holy Mother of God What a woman Not since Margeuerite Yourcenar have I felt so humbled and awed by a woman author, whose breadth and scope of panoramic vision is magnificent This apropos VS Naipul s spurious attack on female authors as being incapable of breadth and scope If Naipul were to be given a small point indirectly, it would be that West has paid a price for her erudition She was a poor mother to her only son, and he estranged from her quite early on The divide freed her up to gallivant [...]

    9. Another epic book on the Balkans The book is the record of a two month road trip through much of Yugoslavia by a British writer, who meticulously and fastidiously recorded everything that she and her husband experienced on their way She has a good eye for people and their ways, and deploys her descriptive powers to good effect when describing the country and its inhabitants Although I don t agree with all her opinions, and some of her flights of fancy verge on the tedious, she nevertheless succe [...]

    10. 6 stars Massive massive game changing book and much respect to Rebecca West because the research and detail that must have gone into that book just must have been eye wateringly massive Rebecca went to Yugoslavia in the interwar period and wrote this book The book isn t really a travel book as you would imagine but for me this covered a journey through the psyche of the Slavic people a mind map of them if you will I m married to a lovely Bosnian lady so this was a huge magnifying glass for me in [...]

    11. Spending what turned out to be 6 weeks with Rebecca West, her husband, her Serbian Jewish guide Constantine and his Nazi wife Gerda as they tour what was then Yugoslavia filling my head with philosophy, Byzantine art, history both modern and medieval, ethnography, descriptions of seedy inns and filling meals was the kind of immersion in a brilliant and quirky mind that reminded me both in pleasure and in length of the times I ve spent with Proust.It s not a book I can recommend lightly I read fa [...]

    12. Well, it s been several months, and I haven t been able to come up with a review that can sum up this overwhelmingly insightful, powerful, and complicated and yes sometimes problematic reading experience But I did take notes as I read, mostly for myself So what follows isn t a review per se, but of a bunch of cobbled together impressions and quotes For quotes, please check out all the status updates below this review Hopefully these notes will be useful to someone else also.My NotesPrologue Th [...]

    13. 2.5 5You can blame for this rating being rounded down rather than up Anything three starred or higher gets churned up in a liked it mash and spewed forth on recommendations that have nothing to do with why I read the book in the first place and everything to do with sucking up to the capitalism machine If I could get some assurance of my rating having the nuance of found it useful despite all odious efforts to the contrary , I d bother with the effort of joining in with the percentage points tha [...]

    14. In 1998 I became friends with a political refugee from Bosnia and her family I also happened to be spending most of my cafe hours at a place owned by a Bosnian couple Many Bosnians had moved to our neighborhood after Bill Clinton finally, and belatedly, awarded them refugee status Being pretty ignorant of the history of the South Slavs and having read many times about West s book in articles about the Yugoslavian wars of the nineties, I read it over the course of several days at that cafe.This i [...]

    15. 1150 pages including the Epilogue but not the Bibliography I read this book for months I believe I started it in July Black Lamb and Grey Falcon records a journey taken by West and her husband Paul, a banker, through the former Yugoslavia in 1934 They spend several months investigating Croatia, Dalmatia, Herzegovina, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Old Serbia Kossovo and Montenegro, mostly in the company of a Serbian Jewish poet named Constantine and, for a time, his quite unpleasant German wife Gerd [...]

    16. There are two things to keep in mind when reading this book 1 Rebecca West is very pro Serb and very anti Turk 2 She hates Germans.Because of her biases, you should not make this book your only source of information if you are at all interested in the history of the Balkans, but she does provide a riveting account of the region s tumultuous past What amazes me is how easily she is able to integrate the history of each place that she visits into her description of her own present experiences and [...]

    17. There s a wonderful intro by Christopher Hitchens in the Penguin edition which I don t have , but you can get said intro free from Kindle if you order the sample of the book I just got the Penguin version from the library and am copying the intro with my scanner Interspersed with centuries of dense historical narrative, West comes up with gems like this description of the Skopje train station e scalp of the years has become dandruffed with undistinguished manufactured good

    18. According to Alan Jacobs, very possibly the greatest book of the 20th century His review is here He also notes that the intro by Christopher Hitchens is a hit piece on the author and worth skipping Although I d read it anyway I m surprised I d never heard of this book I m particularly interested because my parents currently live in the Balkans Albania , and my family was just weeks away from moving to Sarajevo in 1991 when the war broke out in Yugoslavia and we were relocated to Warsaw I m guess [...]

    19. This book has been on my to read list for a while since 2006 I knew if I wanted to write a novel set in Yugoslavia during the 1940s, I had to tackle Black Lamb and Grey Falcon All my other research books mentioned it often in the text, not just in the bibliography , but I wasn t looking forward to it, mostly because of the length I finally got around to reading it At first, it was a lot better than I expected But it kept going, and going, and going This isn t the longest book I ve read, but it f [...]

    20. I finally finished this mother It was given to me as a gift and I was intimidated by the heft However, it was one of the finest books I have ever read It is part travelog, part history, and part literature It is one of the great books of the 20th century, a magnum opus A detailed history of the now Balkanized Yugoslavia up to WWII It also features some of the finest prose ever put to paper in English In addition it gives a delightful look into West s Easter holiday in Yugoslavia in the 1930s By [...]

    21. Absolutely awful reading It s definitely not because it s 1200 pages book No, I actually like them like this I assume a book will provide me with delight, therefore I don t want it to end soon, I don t want it short And it s not because Rebecca writes like a Serbian ambassador No, I don t share her point of views, but I guess I could deal with this The problem is her prose is awfully boring I managed to read 120 pages and one after the other, boring, boring, boring She doesn t know how to tell a [...]

    22. I schlepped this 1000 plus page book around during my travels through Eastern Europe this summer, hoping to gain some insight into the people and places I was passing by I fell in love with this book not only the fascinating history of the former Yugoslavia, but also Rebecca West writing I had trouble picking up a pen during my journey, finding no way I could come close to capturing her descriptions I also learned that to understand Yugoslavia is to understand one thousand years of conquest and [...]

    23. The scope of this book is amazing You have a sense of foreboding reading this because you have the benefit of knowing what will happen to this region over the next 75 years The shadow of WWII hangs over this and adds even intensity I can t forget the words of an old woman in Montenegro If I had to live, why should my life have been like this

    24. This book is as much of a battleground as the Balkans Impossible to read it without going up in arms over some question or other however pacific you are, Rebecca West will give you cause But, prejudiced and opinionated as she is, I never for a moment felt that she was deliberately picking a quarrel or otherwise saying things she didn t herself believe in fully That cannot help but inspire respect, though if you agree with everything she says in this book I ll start thinking you are her clone.The [...]

    25. In placing 5 stars on Dame Rebecca West s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon I am giving her credit for writing a book better than it could have been intent Her book makes many things clear Including some that did not manifest themselves until long after her death Her prose can alternate between too florid and poetic to classic history professor Her fondness for assigning the most abstract and poetic meaning to anything from the weather to the expression of a nearly starving local can be maddening Howev [...]

    26. BLACK LAMB AND GREY FALCON 1940,1941 Rebecca West I recently read A Man of Parts, a sort of biography of H G Wells Rebecca West was one of his mistresses, with whom he had a child In her own right, Ms West was a highly respected author of the times and this book has been called her magnum opus It certainly is magnum When I finally got it from the library, I found that it contained over 1,000 pages in a Penguin paperback edition I was almost afraid to read it I didn t want to break the back of th [...]

    27. Rebecca West s three trips to Yugoslavia took place in the mid 1930 s but this book wasn t published until 1941 and well past historical events in Europe of 1938, 39, 40 and 1941 Obviously she wrote about the Balkans based on events already past and her knowledge of history is daunting but I couldn t help thinking about this gap in time I wondered if some of her opinions as they related to the Allied and Axis powers would have been the same as she experienced them during her travels when those a [...]

    28. This is an incredible book I have actually had this book on my nightstand for about 15 years I ordered it after reading Balkan Ghosts by Robert D Kaplan, and it has followed me from house to house ever since But it s a doorstopper some 1,200 pages so it s not like I was going to pick it up for some light reading Finally I decided that Black Lamb and Grey Falcon would be my summer projectIt is hard to explain the depth and complexity of this book Dame Rebecca West and her husband traveled through [...]

    29. Well, I finally made it through Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, and it feels something like finishing a political campaign grueling, fun at times, never endingd once you ve done it, you don t want to think about it again for a really long time The book is incredible in its scope, and as a resident of the former Yugoslavia, I found it usually quite interesting Her forays into history were very interesting although unreferenced and without any footnotes , and her cultural overviews were often entertai [...]

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