A sweeping view of the influential city of Oxford, from one of our most talented, thoughtful writers. Oxford is a world-renowned stronghold of knowledge, a lush medieval city dotted with beautiful gardens. But it stands for something deep in our minds--excellence, a kind of privilege, a charmed life, deepveined liberalism, a respect for tradition ...
A sweeping view of the influential city of Oxford, from one of our most talented, thoughtful writers. Oxford is a world-renowned stronghold of knowledge, a lush medieval city dotted with beautiful gardens. But it stands for something deep in our minds--excellence, a kind of privilege, a charmed life, deepveined liberalism, a respect for tradition. In his attempt to capture the spirit of this verdant place, Cartwright has spoken to many leading figures, looked at favorite places in Oxford, and even subjected himself to an English tutorial (he performed very poorly). At the same time he has looked at some of the great debates that made Oxford what it is, and patched together the complex history of the place. Cartwright depicts the beauty of this historic city and muses on his own experiences there. At the same time, though, this is more than an encomium to an influential place: It is Cartwright's reckoning with both age and memory. No longer a young man, he examines the walls of this old city for the shadows of his former self and, in broad, powerful strokes, delivers a reflection on the meaning of history, both grand and small.
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Publishers Weekly, 2009-06-01 Cartwright offers a wistful meditation on the passing of time while wandering past Oxford's stone buildings as an older man, reminded of his year there in the 1960s as a student, having escaped South Africa and apartheid for a liberal paradise. "[F]or someone from South Africa," he admits, "this stone seemed to speak, even sing, of a kind of seriousness and disregard for time." Through anecdotes, discussions with many leading figures and historical details of people like Isaiah Berlin and Adam Von Trott, Cartwright reaches to uncover Oxford's mythical presence in Anglo culture. He also examines some of the great debates about the school, including the recent argument about funding and the classism that Oxford is often criticized for. As in his fiction, Cartwright handles weighty themes with an expert touch; here, the result is at turns ruminative and informative, but always inviting. (Aug.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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