The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

July 15, 2016

July 15, 1931

An obituary notice categorizes Brian Sewell (July 15,1931 to September 19, 2015) :

There’s little doubt that Brian Sewell ...was Britain’s best known art critic. Those who didn’t know his name recognized him as the television presenter whose plummy accent was “posher than the Queen[‘s]” (Sewell himself likened his voice to that of an “Edwardian lesbian“). Contemptuous of most contemporary art, Sewell’s operatic put downs of artist’s such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin were eagerly lapped up by the British public, though a deplorable and shameless strand of misogyny marred much of his writing.

He also wrote travelogues; for instance, South from Ephesus: Travels through Aegean Turkey (1988). We read the scenes he imaginatively recreated from ruins; as in the remains of a 2nd century AD Roman theatre where wild beasts were set on each other for entertainment:

whose bloody and often grotesquely mismatched combat offended no-one; bestiarii, the professional slaughterers, fought lions and tigers, bears and bulls, but these as often fought each other, or alligators or hippopotami (imagine the time it would take for a great defenceless hippo to die, for no big cat could throttle it or break its neck, and only shock and exsanguination would bring it mercy as small parcels of flesh were torn from under the leather hide)...

Back to the obit we started with:

He loved animals devotedly and was particularly attached to the dogs he had picked up abroad or in a rescue centre, even those with disagreeable personalities. When I first met him, he owned a Jack Russell called Mrs Macbeth. “I dislike Mrs Macbeth intensely,” he confided. “She’s horrid. She’d been taken to the vet to be put down for generally unpleasant behaviour – she’d bitten a baby – and the vet asked if I could take her. Within minutes, she had bitten me.” When he moved house, he methodically dug up the remains of eight dogs and reburied them in his new garden. “I wanted them with me,” he explained. “If they’d been humans, I wouldn’t have cared a fig.”

I suspect his misogyny was a part of his persona of outrageousness. Doesn't matter -- women can take care of themselves; not so the animals. He is in the right column.

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