Letters from Oxford: Hugh Trevor-Roper to Bernard Berenson - Richard Davenport-HinesLondon: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper.
Contains: Black & white photographs; Photographic end papers & blanks;
From the cover: “When they met in 1947 Hugh Trevor-Roper, a young historian at Christ Church, Oxford, was 33. Bernard Berenson, a world-famous art critic, was 82, frail but still intensely curious about the world. Trevor-Roper promised to write to him and his letters continued until Berenson’s death in 1959.
A mix of social comedy, high-class gossip, sharp intellectual judgements and brilliant travel description, these are wonderfully readable letters. As the friendship with Berenson matures, they grow longer and more discursive. Oxford intrigue and elections are a particular delight, so that the election of a Warden of All Souls or a Professor of Poetry becomes an epic battle between the Party of Light and the Party of Darkness.
The letters range widely: postwar Europe, ex-Nazis and collaborators, the Cold War, Suez, history and historians, journalism, books, publishing and travel. He has a memorable journey on a pilgrims’ bus in Persia, goes behind the Iron Curtain to meet Communist dignitaries and speeds in his glamorous grey Bentley to visit duchesses in the Scottish borders. Evelyn Waugh, Isaiah Berlin, A. L. Rowse, Anthony Eden, Gerald Brenan, A. J. P Taylor, Arnold Toynbee, Dimitri Shostakovitch, C. S. Lewis and Harold Macmillan are among those who figure in these letters.
Trevor-Roper loved intrigue and controversy, ‘the battle and the breeze’. If perfectly poised irony is the prevailing tone of the letters, the mockery can be mordant as well as comic. He loathed the violence and stupidity of the Nazi and Soviet regimes and the bigotry of cardinals and popes. He is scathing about the Suez fiasco.
These are sublime examples of the now-vanished art of letter-writing, to be treasured for their perception and wit, as well as their superbly written prose.”