Cyril Connolly, the celebrated essayist and critic, lived a turbulent creative and personal existence at the heart of the English literary and artistic world until his death in 1974. The Two Natures is the second and final volume of his Selected Works, edited by his son Matthew Connolly. It opens with `An Edwardian Boyhood', from his early masterpiece, Enemies of Promise - a frequently charming, occasionally horrifying and unflinchingly honest account of his youth and formative influences.
The centrepiece of this volume is The Unquiet Grave, Connolly's most famous work, originally published under the pseudonym Palinurus. Written during the Second World War, this unique and inspiring book is a dreamlike and passionate but also sombre meditation on the pinnacles of European culture from ancient times to the present, now threatened again by barbarian darkness.
Leavening this collection are numerous sparkling examples of Cyril Connolly's travel essays, memoirs and satirical short stories. And The Two Natures concludes with his paean to poetry, which he believed to be `the supreme form of communication' and which was perhaps - his tumultuous romantic life and three marriages notwithstanding - the greatest love of his life.
`I was bowled over by The Unquiet Grave - stirring memories, reviving longings - when it came out in 1944 . . . The book is not an anthology: it is a composition, not easy to follow like a symphony first heard, although bedazzling at once by exquisite passages, disquieting thoughts, elegiac cries of pain, conjurations of pleasures lost . . . I read, and re-read, also for the quality of his prose: formed by a classical education, set free by his own voice - now lyrical, now taut; now private, now magisterial; no one in our language has written so sensuously of the beauty of fruit and plants, of animals, of the natural world. And there are his litanies, incantations that twist the heart - shapes of waterfronts, streets of Paris . . . ' Sybille Bedford in the Daily Telegraph, choosing The Unquiet Grace as her Book of the Century
`It is a book which, no matter how many readers it will ever have, will never have enough' Ernest Hemingway on The Unquiet Grave
`He's a writer for all seasons, for all readers . . . Whether he is talking about a meal of a rough red wine and steak frites, or wandering through Lisbon or Rome looking at architecture, one feels through his words the physical relish he takes in the experience. He makes you want to do the same things and derive the same intense enjoyment as he does' William Boyd
`For an expert in low spirits, Connolly seems to have had a high old time' Anthony Lane, New Yorker