Ex Libris Kirkland

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First Written 1951
Genre Falconry
Origin UK
Publisher G. P. Putman's Sons
My Copy library copy
First Read January 03, 2011

The Goshawk

I loved T. H. White's retelling of the Authurian legend, "The Once and Future King." This non-fiction work has about half the charm, but then again it's only about a quarter of the length. Either way, stlll worth a good read

White, a nearly-broke and history-addled writer, decides to take up falconry. That's right, falconry, a sport that's been around since the Egyptians but out of practice for three hundred years. He doesn't know what he's doing, but he has three ancient tomes on how to tame a hawk, a cottage in the countryside, and lots and lots of time.

The book is more than this, however - it's also a leisurely rumination on humanity and what it means to pit ourselves against something alien.

Noted on January 6, 2011

Goshawks were Hamlet, were Ludwig of Bavaria. Frantic heritors of frenetic sires, they were in full health more than half insane. When the red rhenish wine of their blood pulsed at full spate through their arteries, when the airy bird bones were gas-filled with little bubbles of unbiddable warm virility, no merely human being could bend them to his will.

Quoted on November 3, 2016

With the aid of these answers, and of three printed books, I was trying to reconquer a territory over which the contemporaries of Chaucer had rambled free.

Quoted on January 6, 2011

To write something which was of enduring beauty, this was the ambition of every writer: as it was the ambition of the joiner and architect and the constructor of any kind. It was not the beauty but the endurance, for endurance was beautiful. It was also all that we could do. It was a consolation, even a high and positive joy, to make something true: some table, which, sat on, when it was meant only to be eaten off, would not splinter or shatter. It was not for the constructor that the beauty was made, but for the thing itself. He would triumph to know that some contribution had been made: some sort of consoling contribution quite timeless and without relation to his own profit. Sometimes we knew, half tipsy or listening to music, that at the heart of some world there lay a chord to which vibrating gave reality. With its reality there was music and truth and the permanence of good workmanship. To give birth to this, with whatever male travail, was not only all that man could do: it was also all that eclipsed humanity of either sex could do: it was the human contribution to the universe. Absolutely bludgeoned by jazz and mechanical achievement, the artist yearned to discover permanence, some life of happy permanence which he by fixing could create to the satisfaction of after-people who also looked.

Quoted on January 6, 2011

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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