torsdag, november 20, 2008

Winston Churchill m.m.

Just nu är jag så pass upptagen att blogginläggen blir färre än vad jag skulle önska. Vid sidan av läser jag Winston Churchills självbiografiska My Early Life. Klart läsvärd och klart rekommenderad. Recension kommer. Här följer dock ett kort utdrag, dels som ett prov på Churchills prosa och dels som ett exempel på den nostalgi med vilken han efter Första Världskriget (The Great War) uppenbarligen betraktade den gamla sortens krig.

Här utspelar sig en scen under aftonen före slaget vid Omdurman. Några unga kavalleriofficerare samtalar med befälhavaren på en kanonbåt som ligger ute i Nilen.

‘How are you off for drink? We have got everything in the world on board here. Can you catch?’ and almost immediately a large bottle of champagne was thrown from the gunboat to the shore. It fell in the waters of the Nile, but happily where a gracious Providence decreed them to be shallow and the bottom soft. I nipped into the water up to my knees, and reaching down seized the precious gift which we bore in triumph back to our mess.

This kind of war was full of fascinating thrills. It was not like the Great War. Nobody expected to be killed. Here and there in every regiment or battalion, half a dozen, a score, at the worst thirty or fourty, would pay forfeit; but to the great mass of those who took part in the little wars of Britain in those vanished and light-hearted days, this was only a sporting element in a splendid game. Most of us were fated to se a war where the hazards were reversed, where death was the general expectation and severe wounds were counted as lucky escapes, where whole brigades were shorn away under the steel flail of artillery and machine-guns, where the survivors of one tornado knew that they would certainly be consumed in the next or the next after that.

Everything depends upon the scale of events. We young men who lay down to sleep that night within three miles of 60,000 well-armed fanatical Dervishes, expecting every moment their violent onset or inrush and sure of fighting at latest with the dawn – we may perhaps be pardoned if we thought we were at grips with real war.


Om citatvänlighet är ett tecken på litterär begåvning var Churchill definitivt värd sitt Nobelpris. I måndags var jag t.ex. på Skuggutredningens uppläsning och noterade med viss överraskning att minst två av de upplästa förslagen citerade Churchills kultursyn med gillande. Då hade jag redan sett föreställningen Det Osynliga som bland annat illustrerades med en ganska välvillig bild av honom, uppvisad som någon som Fredrik Reinfeldt med flera borde ta mer intryck av. Det kanske inte vore helt fel.

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