Sunday, April 27, 2014


Mr Anthony Lammas, whose long legs had been covering ground at the rate of five miles an hour, slackened his pace, for he felt the need of ordering a mind which for some hours had been dancing widdershins. For one thing the night had darkened, since the moon had set, and the coast track which he followed craved wary walking. But it was the clear dark of a northern April, when, though the details are blurred, the large masses of the landscape are apprehended.   

He was still aware of little headlands descending to a shadowy gulf which was the Firth. Far out the brazier on the May was burning with a steady glow, like some low-swung planet shaming with its ardour the cold stars. He sniffed the sharp clean scent of the whins above the salt; he could almost detect the brightness of their flowering. They should have been thyme, he thought, thyme and arbutus and tamarisk clothing the capes of the Sicilian sea, for this was a night of Theocritus. . . .

Theocritus! What had he to do with Theocritus? It was highly necessary to come to terms with this mood into which he had fallen. 

From:  John Buchan, The Free Fishers, 1934.


  1. Replies
    1. Why, thank you. A lot. The Free Fishers is really fascinating, very late Buchan. It hearkens back thematically to some of his earlier genre writing, but as he approached the end of his life and career, everything became uncommonly fine and focused. These are the novel's opening paragraphs and they are incredibly arresting. One fabulous thing about Buchan is his nature vocabulary, e.g., I now know what whins are. And the way he unites a northern European outlook with southern European longings is also notable. I suspect you are in Greece now. I hope your work goes well and you have an extraordinary time. We are also heading in a southeasterly direction today, but only to Delaware to buy wine. NOT complaining -- definitely. Curtis