As a little end-of-year project, I’ve just launched jocelynbrooke.com, a site dedicated to the life and work of English writer Jocelyn Brooke (1908—1966). I’ve become somewhat obsessed with Brooke in the last few months, and have begun a small campaign to revive his reputation.
Brooke’s writing, which clusters in the decades around the Second World War, is unique in English letters. I’ve managed to amass an almost complete set of his books with a particular penchant for the Kafkaesque Image of a Drawn Sword and the angst-ridden The Scapegoat, and extending to his delightful botanical treatise The Flower in Season, and his extraordinary Surrealist work of 1956 The Crisis in Bulgaria, or, Ibsen to the Rescue! His semi-autobiographical novels are works of a rare quality, combining a deliberately Proustian longing for things past with a very English melancholy and sense of place, and a sensual quality that feels quite out of its time, and which is deeply rooted in his private and currently little known life. I can’t recommend them highly enough.