Friday, 28 March 2014

An Unusual Autobiography

Non-fiction ~ review
Published in The Spectator, 11th July 1930¹
930 words
(First read 28/03/2014)

In which E. F. Benson commits an act of Extreme Naughtiness by reviewing the book of a very good friend and not acknowledging that they're even acquainted².  The friend in question is Francis Yeats-Brown ~ for more on this chap see the entry for Mother (1925).  The book is titled The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, and was subsequently turned into a film, Airfix kit, beer, and restaurant In a nutshell EFB likes the book but thinks it sags in the middle when, in the 1910s, FYB leaves India to go and take part in some war or other in Europe.  Fred very successfully manages to entirely put me off reading it³ by saying this:
Going deeper yet, we are introduced to the topic which we rightly augur will be the main motif of the book ~ namely, the study of Yoga and the visit to Benares where he first gets into touch with the lore that is the life of India.
The review is available online here.

¹ The review was collected in Sea Mist: Collected Spook Stories Volume 5 (2005).
² STOP PRESS [06/12/14]: Since writing this back in April I've discovered that EFB did far worse than this.  Here are Geoffrey Palmer and Noel Lloyd on the subject ~ the bolding is mine:
Fred had opened a new world to Francis.  He had great literary ambitions but [circa 1910-12] they only amounted to a few articles published in Indian papers, and he had never before met a professional writer.  Many years later he wrote, and re-wrote with Fred's help, Bengal Lancer, the story of his life in India.
(From E. F. Benson As He Was, 1988).  So Benson was reviewing a book he actually had a hand in writing.  Shocking.
³ The chances of that happening were minuscule to start with, I admit.

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