(1965) T. H. White is known to his readers in a variety of roles: as the medieval scholar of The Bestiary; the novelist and wizard of the Arthurian tetralogy The Once and Future King; the nineteenth-century gentleman of Farewell Victoria; the fantasist of Mistress Masham's Repose; the falconer of The Goshawk; the raconteur of The Godstone and The Blackymor; and the eighteenth-century Tory of Age of Scandalto name only some of his many guises. Now in America At Last, readers have a chance to meet him as the responsive and unique human being he really was.
In this, the last book written before his death, he joins the distinguished ranks of travelers from abroad who have taken advantage of a visit to America to record their impressions of our country. Unlike so many of his predecessors, he was captivated by what he saw and learned, by the places he visited and the people he met. His observations and experiences give us fresh insights into the American way of life but, at the same time, they tell just as much about him as they do about us.
It is no accident that the purpose of his visit was a transcontinental lecture tour that took him from New England to the West Coast, for he was at his best both as instructor and entertainer. Whether he is explaining the reasons behind his belief that America is undergoing a cultural awakening comparable to Renaissance Italy's or voicing his concern lest a hidden streak of violence in the American character prove our undoing, his perceptions are novel and astute and his interests range widelyfrom coeducation to Mormonism, from wildlife to food, from architecture to racial issues.
As his close friend David Garnett says in the Introduction to America At Last, "It is his mixture of wisdom and simplicity, together with a delight in the texture of all things on earth, which make Tim such an excellent writer, excellent for the boys and girls he loved to teach, excellent for us all."
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Unless otherwise noted, entire contents ©1996, J. Moulder and M. Schaefer. All rights reserved.
Revised Saturday, 28-Sep-2002 22:10:44 CDT.