Book Notes: "Backcloth" by Dirk Bogarde

BackclothBackcloth by Dirk Bogarde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first 'discovered' Dirk Bogarde after reading Thomas Mann's Death in Venice and then watching the movie starring Bogarde as Gustave Aschenbach. The movie was rather true to the book and Bogarde's performance perfectly captured my mind's eye view of the story. An unusual but pleasing experience. So recently, when I 'discovered' a copy of Backcloth, I was impressed that Bogarde, after turning down Hollywood roles and refusing a 'marriage of convenience' to make American viewers happy, became a best-selling author. And no wonder. Backcloth is an autobiography, but it reads like A Year in Provence (Bogarde lived there, too). There are other volumes of his story and I cannot wait to 'discover' these, too. But after reading the story of his life from birth up until his honorary doctorate from St Andrews and the death of his life-long 'partner', Forwood, I can only imagine what else he must have done to fill more books on his life. Bogarde had a real talent for story-telling, and there is little self-aggrandisement, yet much reflection that makes one sad, yet nostalgic and happy at the same time. In essence, Bogarde captures the Portuguese feeling which escapes English translation - saudade. After feeling that I was running out of classics that were my 'cup of tea', 'discovering' Bogarde gives me hope that my reading journey still has a very long way to go.

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