With apologies to the late James W. Best for appropriating his image (from his 1935 Forest Life in India)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Says It All, Really

On a day when the selfish and greedy wail and gnash their teeth over the death of a woman with a heart of stone, I'd like to address the more important issue of evocative book titles. Take this one from 1927, by Hubert Banner - Romantic Java. Not bad, is it? You don't even have to open it to know it won't let you down. The 1940s and 50s saw a glut of books about daring wartime escapades with some wonderfully stirring titles: Beyond the Chindwin (1945), The Jungle is Neutral (1949), Boldness Be My Friend (1953), They Fought Alone (1958). Great stuff to have on your shelves when you're a hopeless old nostalgic like me. A shortlist of my all-time favourite book titles would have to include Knut Hamsun's Hunger (1890) – so much yearning expressed in just one word – Hugh Clifford's homage to old Malaya The Further Side of Silence (1916), Philip Woodruff/Mason's novel of colonial India The Wild Sweet Witch (1947), Arthur Mizener's biography of Scott Fitzgerald The Far Side of Paradise (1951), and Howard Fast's zany SF short-story collection The General Zapped an Angel (1969). But top of the list, I think, would be a 1941 title that I'm fairly certain the late leaderene never got around to reading...