Simon Schama: Essay on ice cream takes the cake in this exhilarating read

Source: South Africa, Independent Online, 1-24-11

IOL Tonight Pic CT Scribble Scribble 21 Jan 2011

Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writings on Ice Cream, Obama, Churchill and my Mother

Simon Schama

Bodley Head

REVIEW: Donald Paul

A UNIVERSITY Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University, Simon Schama is one of those exasperatingly prolific writers, that is, he writes damned thick books, and lots of them.

He’s also written and presented more than 40 documentaries for the BBC. The title of his latest book is from a comment made by Edward Gibbon’s patron, the Duke of Gloucester: “Another damned, thick square book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr Gibbon?”

To plough through Landscape and Memory, published in 1995, is somewhat the intellectual equivalent of cycling the Tour de France: relentlessly demanding, panoramic and exhilaratingly exhausting. The collection of essays, Scribble, Scribble, Scribble, is more like a long traipse through defined but unknown territory, a sort of Camino de Santiago, with stops along the way where you can re-gather yourself.

The book is divided into eight sections, ranging from “Travelling” to “Performing”, and from “Cooking and Eating” to “Remembering”. You can stop in where you like, and move on when and where the spirit takes you.

Schama, born in London, now lives in the US and his essay in “Travelling” about the historical depiction of the relationship between Europe and his fellow Americans goes a long way to explaining how different the two peoples are still to this day. It has a lot to do, he says, with the Americans’ insistence on “severance from history; and, above all, what the Germans called Bodenlosigkeit, a willed rootlessness”…READ MORE

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