ARROW £7.99 (289pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Curiosities of Literature, By John Sutherland
Friday 27 November 2009
Though every page testifies to the well-stocked mind of Sutherland, it is particularly revealing of his chain of thought.
This begins with stock cubes in Howards End, which leads Sutherland to Vril, the "powerful quasi electrical fluid" consumed by subterranean reptilian superwomen in Bulwer-Lytton's The Coming Race. Weirdly, this condiment inspired both Bovril and the Vril Society of the Luminous Lodge, an Aryan group possibly joined by Hitler.
Phew! Sutherland also explores the aftermath of consumption with six pages on farting in literature. Some may think such ephemera as Allen Ginsberg's alleged last word ("Toodle-oo") to be unworthy topics for the Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern Literature at UCL, but Sutherland is far more interesting than most lit-crit.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Revealed after 75 years of secrecy: 'Fifi' the glamorous WW2 special agent who tested British spies' resolve
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Laurie Lee's Rosie: What is it like to inspire a writer's work and be immortalised forever on the page?
Doctor Who series 8: Time Heist pictures revealed ahead of episode 5
The Walking Dead season 5 air date, trailer and season 4 recap
Well this Star Wars 7 leaked set photo of Adam Driver changes everything
Pharrell Williams says that 'Blurred Lines' criticism is 'out of context'
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'