Dirk Bogarde Caroline Seebohm - Essay

Caroline Seebohm

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The author [of A Postillion Struck by Lightning] is Dirk Bogarde—not merely a star but a marvelous actor, who in recent years has tended to choose roles that, while being doubtful at the box office, have had pretensions to art. His book may be accused of courting the same fate.

Bogarde divides his memoirs into two parts, Summer and Winter. Summer is highly impressionistic evocation of an English childhood…. This first part draws heavily on dialogue and vignettes for its effect.

The second part is a more straightforward narrative of adolescence, unhappy school days in Scotland and gradual commitment to an acting career. By the end of the book, Bogarde has signed up for the Army after the outbreak of World War II. There is a sort of postscript chapter set in Hollywood when the actor is nearly 40, struggling with the role of Franz Liszt and the various indignities of Hollywood life.

Not earth-shattering material, to be sure….

Dirk Bogarde is a surprisingly good writer,… even though there are moments in the first part when the tone jars…. He sometimes uses a faux-naïf style to convey childlike impressions, which does not come off. And after a while one wonders what the point is—there is very little sense of direction in the early reminiscences. The second part, in which he uses a more adult voice and eye, has much more drive.

Bogarde's reason...

(The entire section is 403 words.)