AMBROSIA AND SMALL BEER by Christopher-Ed. Hassall


Email this review


England's Edward Marsh (1872-1953) was a minor literary mandarin who enjoyed the confidences of the great and near-great--novelists, poets, painters, actors, politicians. His letters to Christopher Hassall (1912-1963), an even dimmer luminary, begun in the early '30's and continued till his death, are a delightful correspondence, though clearly the kind which in these stirring existential days might seem very un-hip indeed. Certainly the following somewhat typical line- ""Christopher, it is so nice to have someone to whom I can pass my dewdrops on, knowing you won't laugh at me and that you will share my pleasure""- is just the sort to set the Beat or New Left generations howling. But so much the worse for them. This splendidly ""inconsequential"" chit-chat, with its sunbursts of sanity, wit, charm, its effortless grace and fine-boned culture, its anecdotes, glimpses, evaluations of everyone from Churchill to Noel Coward, David Cecil, Ivor Novello, the Lunts, the Olivers, Paul Nash, Maugham, etc., makes a very special little book. It is a guide to London high-life from some exceptionally intimate angles, as well as a complementary portrait of Sir Edward and Hassall in the roles of mentor and student, or more accurately of surrogate father and son. A perfect dip-in collection, warm and frank, studded with quotable remarks about many classic and contemporary works.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1965
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World