Monday, March 18, 2019

39 Steps

I read the first part of Robert Kennedy: His Life, and therein is mentioned how the Kennedy brothers enjoyed spy novels like The Thirty-Nine Steps.

I subsequently read the short novel, and I can concur it is an engaging read. Near the beginning, John Buchan's character shows, at 37, he is on the cusp of a mid-life crisis: “I looked up into the spring sky and I made a vow. I would give the Old Country another day to fit me into something; if nothing happened, I would take the next boat for the Cape.”

Little surprise he captured the imagination of a generation for half a century including a future President.

Interesting quotes:
I read him as a sharp, restless fellow, who always wanted to get down to the roots of things. He got a little further down than he wanted.

Away behind all the Governments and the armies there was a big subterranean movement going on, engineered by very dangerous people.

If you're going to be killed you invent some kind of flag and country to fight for, and if you survive you get to love the thing.

I had made a practice of judging the man rather than the story.

Few people knew me in England; I had no real pal who could come forward and swear to my character.

I want to see life, to travel the world, and write things like Kipling and Conrad. But the most I've done yet is to get some verses printed in CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL.'

No man's nerve could stand more than a day of being spied on.

A man of my sort, who has travelled about the world in rough places, gets on perfectly well with two classes, what you may call the upper and the lower.

But what fellows like me don't understand is the great comfortable, satisfied middle-class world, the folk that live in villas and suburbs.

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