Rethinking Bowra

A reviewish sort of thing of a biography of Maurice Bowra  in the New Statesman includes this tantalizing bit, inter alia:

He was a scholar of ancient Greek literature but, despite a string of books, produced nothing exceptional (one contemporary compared his prose to “a man writing luggage labels”) and failed to get an Oxford chair. He was allegedly a great wit, but does not have a single entry in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. He was almost certainly homosexual and, to his friends between the wars, proclaimed himself a leader of the Homintern. Yet he ducked out of public backing for homosexuals, most shamefully in 1947 when he refused to support André Gide, as open a honorary degree. Many thought him the model for characters in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time, but it probably wasn’t true in either case. Nor was it true that, on being greeted by Hitler with “Heil Hitler!” he responded: “Heil Bowra!” It was his friend (and possibly lover) Robert Boothby who shouted “Heil Boothby!” and he was responding, not to Hitler himself, but to a secretary. When the false version of the story circulated, Bowra implored Boothby not to spoil it. Which says, perhaps, all you need to know about the man.

… there’s more:

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