Sunday, February 28, 2021

Fortnightly Book, February 28

 Maurice Baring (1874-1925) was born into an extremely wealthy banking family, and had an excellent education; he had a facility for language, and so went into the diplomatic service, which he found he hated. He did discover that he loved all things Russian, though, and first began to get a name by reporting on the Russo-Japanese War. He converted to Catholicism in 1909, and served with distinction in World War I. The end of the war led him to experiment with drama and novels (he had before then primarily written poetry, essays, and the occasional short story), and it was as a novelist that he became truly famous. He spent the last years of his life suffering from Parkinson's disease and other incidental illnesses.

For the next fortnight I will be reading two of Baring's novels. The first, The Coat Without Seam (1929), is the tale of a man who is haunted by the tale of a relic, the seamless robe of Christ, which keeps popping up in his life; the second, In My End Is My Beginning (1931), is a historical novel about Mary, Queen of Scots. I'll be quite busy this week and next for a number of reasons, but Baring has a very readable style, so it shouldn't be difficult to do them both.

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