Friday Mystery Author: Dec. 1, 2006

Welcome to this week’s Friday Mystery Author, in which I post a passage from a more or less obscure book, and invite all visitors to take a crack at identifying the work and author in the comments (or just say hello). If you have a blog, please leave the url too. Here goes. It’s a little long this week:

England’s new leader, were he to prevail, would have to stand for everything England’s decent, civilized Establishment had rejected. They viewed Adolf Hitler as the product of complex social and historical forces. Their successor would have to be a passionate Manichaean who saw the world as a medieval struggle to the death between the powers of good and the powers of evil, who held that individuals are responsible for their actions and that the German dictator was therefore wicked. A believer in martial glory was required, one who saw splendor in the ancient parades of victorious legions through Persepolis and could rally the nation to brave the coming German fury. An embodiment of fading Victorian standards was wanted: a tribune for honor, loyalty, duty, and the supreme virtue of action; one who would never compromise with iniquity, who could create a sublime mood and thus give men heroic visions of what they were and might become. Like Adolf Hitler he would have to be a leader of intuitive genius, a born demagogue in the original sense of the word, a believer in the supremacy of his race and his national destiny, an artist who knew how to gather the blazing light of history into his prism and then distort it to his ends, an embodiment of inflexible resolution who could impose his will and his imagination on his people – a great tragedian who understood the appeal of martyrdom and could tell his followers the worst, hurling it to them like great hunks of bleeding meat, persuading them that the year of Dunkirk would be one in which it was “equally good to live or die” – who could if necessary be just as cruel, just as cunning, and just as ruthless as Hitler but who could win victories without enslaving populations, or destroying, or even warping, the libertarian institutions he had sworn to preserve. Such a man, if he existed, would be England’s last chance.

In London there was such a man.

Check back on Monday. Last week’s entry is here and the answer is here. Have a good weekend.

3 Responses to “Friday Mystery Author: Dec. 1, 2006”

  1. Friday Mystery Author: William Manchester « Zeal and Activity Says:

    […] This week’s Friday Mystery Author was historian William Manchester; the passage was from the Preamble to his great, unfinished biography of Winston S. Churchill, The Last Lion. His admiration for Churchill, and Churchill’s genius, aroused Mr. Manchester in his Preamble to heroic flights of prose, but the work itself is admirably clear-eyed. Every line sparkles: a few pages later, “[Hitler] needed Churchill the way a murderer needs a noose.” […]

  2. Friday Mystery Author: Dec. 8, 2006 « Zeal and Activity Says:

    […] Welcome to this week’s edition of Friday Mystery Author (last week’s is here). Take a crack at identifying the source of the following passage, author and title, or just say hello in the comments. I’ll post the answer on Monday. As always, thank you for stopping by, and have a good weekend. There is also a woodchuck here, living forty feet away under the wharf. When the wind is right, he can smell my house; and when the wind is contrary, I can smell his. We both use the warf for sunning, taking turns, each adjusting his schedule to the other’s convenience. Thoreau once ate a woodchuck. I think he felt he owed it to his readers, and that it was little enough, considering the indignities they were suffering at his hands and the dressing-down they were taking. (Parts of Walden are pure scold.) Or perhaps he ate the woodchuck because he believed every man should acquire strict business habits, and the woodchuck was destroying his market beans. I do not know. Thoreau had a strong experimental streak in him. It is probably no harder to eat a woodchuck than to construct a sentence that lasts a hundred years. At any rate, Thoreau is the only writer I know who prepared himself for his great ordeal by eating a woodchuck; also the only one who got a hangover from drinking too much water. (He was drunk the whole time, though he seldom touched wine or coffee or tea.) […]

  3. Friday Mystery Author: William Manchester « Zeal and Activity Says:

    […] Mystery Author: William Manchester This week’s Friday Mystery Author was historian William Manchester; the passage was from the Preamble to his great, unfinished […]

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