A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal 1996-98

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9780140270068: A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal 1996-98

This is Alec Guiness' journal of the eighteen months after the summer of 1996, tumultuous times for the nation - the death of Diana, the arrival of New Labour, Hale-Bopp planet and local events in Hampshire - the dying plane tree, the vulnerability of the hassocks in Steep Church .

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Review:

There is something wonderfully perverse about Alec Guinness publishing his diaries. He is, after all, one of those actors who made his mark precisely by obliterating his own personality in favour of conjuring up, chameleon-like, a host of vivid characters on film, stage and television. Asked what Alec Guinness is like in real life, most people would not dare venture an opinion. But with his journal My Name Escapes Me (and it's a telling title), Guinness has found new fame at 82, with his lucid, mild-mannered yet often insightful ponderings on his own life (failing eyesight, well, failing everything, really), unselfconsciously woven with more national and universal concerns. Now, with A Positively Final Appearance, we get a second instalment, covering the years 1996 to 1998, which saw personal triumphs over that eye trouble and political upheaval with the death of Diana and the birth of Blair. We're drawn into a gentler, more refined world, where teasing and sardonic appraisals of the arts, past and present, are interlaced with memories of old friends (and when they include Garbo, Noel Coward and Wallis Windsor, why not?) Guinness is well cast as the seasoned, genial raconteur looking back at the end of a long life. But A Positively Final Appearance? Somehow, I doubt it.-- Alan Stewart

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