Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kilvert's Diary

The Guardian last weekend had a piece on Kilvert's Diary which recounted the distressing history of the wanton destruction of the most of the originals, with only a small fraction published. It also claimed 'The one-volume abridgement, published by Penguin, and subsequently by Pimlico, has fallen out of print, while Plomer's three-volume edition has long been unavailable'. Well, a bit of idle googling quickly showed that at least that's happily wrong. The abridged version is in apparently in print from Read Books (see here), and the three-volume version is certainly in print too (see here). You can readily pick up e.g. inexpensive copies of the Folio Society abridged version from abebooks too. In part it is a wonderful evocation of the landscape around Clyro, in part a touching record of a lost and simpler world, in part a moving reminder of the pretty dire lot of the rural poor, especially in age or infirmity. Kilvert is a humane observer who can write wonderfully. Read it!

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