Recent Tumblr posts from my e-friend voxsartoria featuring Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons in Brideshead Revisited reminded me of an idiosyncrasy of Sebastian Flyte, Andrews’ character. Not his dissipation and fall from grace (apologies for spoilers of inevitable plot elements that you should have seen coming), but his attitude towards hairbrushes.
A few years ago I wrote that there were two types of tailoring memoir or history: the worshipful and dry factual history and the gossipy tell-all, a dirt-dishing bildungsroman. I had not counted on the appearance of a third type over the last four years, the nearly content-free picture book featuring monographs by mercenary fashion journalists and bloggers.
As a boy, my first experiences with morally ambiguous characters were in the pages of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers and its sequels (Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin in The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After, respectively, and finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert in Le Vicomte de Bragelonne).
I thought it fitting to devote my first post for No Man Walks Alone to Romain Gary, a man of the world who was many men, in more ways than one: fighter pilot, diplomat, glittering celebrity, immigrant, intellectual, and the only person to win France’s greatest literature prize twice, under two very different identities. He did so with dash and vigor, conviction and charm earned under fire.