Richard Dadd is probably best known for two things: his enigmatic and hallucinatory fairy paintings and the fact that he murdered his father.
In 'The World of Richard Dadd', Michael Mott reflects upon Dadd, the artist and the son, but intertwines this with thoughts about his own childhood in north London on the eve of the Second World War; a childhood shared by Thom Gunn to whom the book is dedicated.
The strands of the book are skillfully mingled, partly because they share a similar mood where dreamlike memory distilled by time. Mott evokes a childhood where parents are distant exotic beings, usually viewed through the upstairs banisters, where children climb monkey puzzle trees and dress up in their absent parents' clothes.
This is not to say this is a comfortable book. Mott is painfully honest about the patriarchal society in which he was brought up, and its consequences in the wider world - the shadow of war hangs over the book.
All in all, a thought-provoking collection from an accomplished poet, full of allusive and memorable images.
My one criticism is of the reproductions of Dadd's work inside the book - they are murky and hard to discern.
The World of Richard Dadd (英語) ペーパーバック – 2005/7/31
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