Alan Bennett dedicates Kipling’s poem A Dead Statesman to Boris Johnson | Books
In the excerpt from Alan Bennett’s annual diary, the playwright dedicates Rudyard Kipling’s poem To The Dead Statesman, in which the narrator proclaims that “all my lies are proven false / And I must face the men I killed », To Boris Johnson.
Bennett’s annual chronicle of his life, published Wednesday by the London Review of Books, goes from his problems to having his hair cut in February – his partner Rupert Thomas takes on the task in confinement and “manages to make me look like a blond Hitler” – to politics.
In March, he criticized how “with his usual foresight and good judgment, one of the current prime minister’s first acts was to rush to President Trump’s side,” and how former President John Bercow was the one who sidelined Trump. addressing parliament in 2017. “His reward was being denied the customary retirement peerage by the Prime Minister, who willingly distributed peerages to countless millionaires, all Conservative Party donors. And so on, ”Bennett writes.
On May 30, Bennett was reduced to simply writing the entirety of Kipling’s poignant A Dead Statesman, noting that it was “a poem for Boris.”
“I couldn’t dig: I didn’t dare to steal: / So I lied to please the crowd. / Now all my lies are proven wrong / And I have to face the men I killed. / What story will serve me here among / Mine angry and swindled? “Writes Kipling in the excerpt from Epitaphs of war.
Reading Rory Stewart’s account of his time in Iraq, Occupational Hazards, Bennett noted in September that “it’s hard to imagine this man, even briefly, as a member of Parliament for Penrith and a candidate for Boris Johnson, but on this evidence alone, he would have been a more solid reseller with our intractability and a more honest reseller ”.
Bennett also takes the time to chronicle his reading habits – especially Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth, which was later dropped by its editor over allegations of sexual assault, which Bailey denied. “This is a fucking big book, which I stumbled upon yesterday on my birthday,” Bennett notes in May, also writing about his own unexpected mention in the biography, when he meets Roth at a dinner in the 1960s.
Bennett’s own “memories of the night are more embarrassing,” he says. “Talk to Jonathan [Miller] previously I had made a bad joke that Portnoy’s complaint was The Gripes of Roth, ”he recalls. “I’m sure I wasn’t the first to figure this out, but it was new to Jonathan, so when Roth arrived he insisted on saying it about him. Maybe he even insisted that I repeat it myself. I have no recollection of Roth’s response – without amusement, I would have thought – but remember my own embarrassment, as fresh now with Roth’s death as it was 50 years ago.
The journal is published in issue 1001 of the London Review of Books. Mary-Kay Wilmers, who edited the magazine for almost 30 years and founded it in 1979 with Karl Miller and Susannah Clapp, resigned her post in January. “At first I got mad because Karl Miller was trying to get my jokes out, often because he didn’t understand them,” Bennett said of the LRB story. “He rarely gave a verdict on the play, so you were never sure you were up to it.”