THE PLEASURE OF RUINS by Rose Macaulay
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THE PLEASURE OF RUINS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ruins, ruin sentiment, Ruinen Schnsucht, the very words take on an incantatory power in Rose Macaulay's exquisite Pleasure. And the names... Tyre, Avalon, Palmyra (where ""Lady Hester Stanhope did not take her ruin pleasures quietly""), Baalbek, Nineveh, Babylon and Thebes (""possibly the most impressive assortment of ruins anywhere""); Mycenae, Knosses, Corinth (""from the first a fine press""); Persepolis, Susa, Athens, Rome (where ""progressive ruining has been observed closely, and without intermission, by citizens and travelers for nearly two thousand years""). On, to the palaces of India and Italy, to Xanadu, to the abbeys of Ireland, Scotland, Wales. Indeed a ruinous intoxication that was once heady enough to drive people to construct artificial ones takes hold and the reader too is ready to pursue the long reaches of the past and the remains to be seen. If there was ""a fascination frantic/in a ruin that's romantic"" to an 18th century Englishman, the 20th century cosmopolite will find equal stimulation in Miss Macaulay's ode to antiquity. The Pleasure of Ruins appeared in England in 1954; this is the first publication of the complete text here. An abridged edition is available in the superb color-illustrated volume of the same name distributed through the Time-Life International Book Club, which may have absorbed a good deal of the market for the present book. The seventy illustrations in contrast here make little impression and are merely postcards from the past. ""An acute case of ruin pleasure to the head,"" Miss Macaulay diagnosed Gregorovius' effusions on Ninfa; it's all very catching.

Publisher: Walker