The pleasure of reading is such that it is even a joy to read about other’s reading habits. I think that is why I ordered this book before it was published. It was advertised on The Thought Fox (Faber and Faber’s blog about books) and I was seduced by:
John Carey, who remains at 79 one of the most sensible and perceptive critics at work, reflects on his life in literature, including formative encounters with W. H. Auden, Robert Graves and Philip Larkin, in his memoir, The Unexpected Professor.
And of course, his admiration for George Orwell, whose Essays he edited, was another stimulus.
In some way Carey makes me think of Alberto Manguel, who is also a prolific writer about his own reading. He seems to have had some influence in updating the Oxford English syllabus. He studied French and in his thirties German, to read Rilke.
Anyway, more than a professor, he seems an eager and intelligent reader. He strolls through the English literary history with a lot of attention for John Donne (about whom he wrote a book), William Golding (idem, a biography), Philip Larkin, George Orwell, Seamus Heaney and many others.
I was intrigued enough to buy his book: What good are the arts?