This is Michael Davidson (1897 – 1976), as portrayed by Colin Spencer. The portrait is printed on a glossy paper inset in the first edition of Davidson’s autobiography The World, the Flesh and Myself from 1962, published by Arthur Barker Limited in London.
This book is extraordinary in many respects. Not least because Davidson travelled the world as a foreign correspondent and reported from more than a handful war zones and other places of historical importance – including the creation of the Third Reich, which he had to flee. He also associated with a number of famous people, and while many of them were more famous then than now, Davidson was the one who discovered, mentored and first published W. H. Auden. They met when Auden was 16 and Davidson 26.
However, the most interesting part of Michael Davidson’s life to readers of this blog is what he reveals in the first sentence of his book:
This is the life-history of a lover of boys.
That sentence plays an important part in his book, and that’s why I have chosen The World, the Flesh and Myself for Destroyer’s Advent Calendar 2011! Each day from the 1st to the 24th of December, there will be a post with a quote from this book. Because it deserves to be discovered by more people, and especially by the aesthetes who read this blog.
The rules are as follows:
- I will make one change to the quotes I publish: line breaks. This is to ease the reading of the otherwise sometimes very long paragraphs. Davidson wrote the book in a time where attention spans were longer and there was no web. Look upon my line breaks as my interpretation of Davidson’s text – if I read it on a stage, this is where I would make a short break and take a breath before continuing.
- I will highlight text here and there in bold type. For the same reasons as above – to ease reading and add emphasis.
- There will be pictures of boys accompanying some of the calendar entries. Those are random boys that don’t have anything to do with Michael Davidson, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.
By the way, never mind the Christian traditions of Christmas and Advent – we’re just having a bit fun here! Bring back that feeling from childhood when you had a real Advent Calendar (or didn’t you?).
There is a Wikipedia entry on Michael Davidson, but it’s a so called stub. I encourage the readers of this blog to improve it and rate it, especially if you have information about Michael Davidson – I know I have some very knowledgeable readers.
Michael Davidson went on to write another memoir called Some Boys (1970). As you can get from the title, that book is focused solely on some of the boys he met during his life. I reviewed it in Destroyer 05. It wouldn’t make sense to quote from that book in the calendar though, cause I would just end up quoting the whole book. :O Some Boys is a must-read, whereas you will be able to get the super-abridged version of The World, the Flesh and Myself in my posts about it.
Seriously, if there’s a canon for aesthetes like us, and I think there is, Michael Davidson belongs to it. Learn more about him by following Destroyer’s Advent Calendar!