Memories

Memories

Memories

Memories

Excerpt

When Desmond MacCarthy died, we lost the best of contemporary critics. If this judgment seems coloured by my gratitude and affection, let me ask what other writer in our time has responded to such a variety of work with an appreciation at once so discriminating and so infectious? His books take up only a small space on our shelves: except for a slight volume dealing with the Court Theatre, all his work was done for periodicals, and is now easily accessible only in the selections made by his friend Pearsall Smith, and later by Lady MacCarthy and Mr James MacGibbon. If, however, an academic writer condemns it for this reason as journalism, he should similarly dismiss the greater part of Addison and Hazlitt.

Desmond MacCarthy was sincerely over-modest in judging his work: it was so much slighter than what in his youth he had dreamt of achieving, slighter too than what with his extraordinary gifts he might have achieved. Nor was this due chiefly, I think, to his having to earn a livelihood; I should say rather that his gusto for life kept him from the ascetic regularity and solitude that authorship usually demands. He preferred reading to writing--so as a rule do all but the worst writers; to add that he preferred talking to reading might be excessive, but I have never known anyone who more enjoyed talking, or who talked better. In any case, the laziness with which he sometimes reproached himself was a temptation that in fact he always overcame. He wrote much more than many authors who plume themselves on industry, and he wrote nothing with which he did not take pains.

What delighted him more than art or ideas or landscape was human nature, the oddity, the inconsistency, the surprisingness, of individual men and women and children. Goodness knows . . .

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