Thursday, June 24, 2010

Reading: Rebecca West

"Hour after hour throughout the night a German bomber cruised up and down over the moonlit beechwoods of our valley; and while it is easy enough to sleep through bombing in a shelter, it is difficult to get much sleep at all in a country house with hostile aircraft overhead, because an incendiary bomb would call for so much action..."

-- opening lines of "A Day in Town", 1941, included in "The Essential Rebecca West: Uncollected Prose", published this year by Pearhouse Press.

It's a thin but potent volume, and it will be my introduction to Rebecca West, who might be better known today for a huge history and travelogue of Yugoslavia called "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon". West was one of the 20th century's great journalists, and her New Yorker editor entrusted her with covering the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals (as explained on the back of the new book).