Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Matthew Crawley, Lit Guy

I finally finished watching last week's episode of Downton Abbey and have only this to say of the final few minutes...Cliche Alert!

I'll write, instead, about some bookie bits I stumbled upon relating to Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley. Turns out, he was a judge for last year's Man Book Prize. We're kind of vague about what that is here in the U.S., so that probably explains why we haven't heard much (in my case, anything) about his involvement with it. He is also editor-at-large (whatever that means) for a lit quarterly, The Junket. Looking After #numbertwo is a recent Stevens' contribution to that site.

While reading it, I first thought, Ah, Stevens is so much a twenty-first century man, not at all like his Downton Abbey role. Then I thought, But, Gail, Matthew was an early twentieth-century man when all around him were determined to stay rooted in the nineteenth. If Matthew Crawley were real (and not reel) wouldn't his mind have been working like that of the author of Looking After #numbertwo?

Yes, I have been told I think too much.

Getting back to Dan Stevens, Lit Guy, which is the real subject of this post, I will go on to tell you that he is also a columnist for The Telegraph. These personal essays, My Week on the Porch and My Week of US Festivities, for example, are a little over the top arty for my tastes. But at the same time, he has some interesting things to say. He describes porches as "occupying that liminal zone between creature comforts and the great outdoors." Okay, "liminal" probably supports my point about his writing being intentionally arty, but it's a word I happen to like, and I think it does fit here very well. And of our Thanksgiving Day Parade, he says, "Towering Smurfs are flanked by a gargantuan Pillsbury Doughboy, a titanic jug of Kool-Aid and a monumental Ronald McDonald, looming down on the crowds with a terrifyingly reassuring “thumbs up”. These are also brands that have fed the nation’s economy – indeed the giving of thanks for the “harvest” has increasingly metaphorical, commercial connotations."  I have never thought of that, but I'll be thinking of it every Thanksgiving from now on.

Has any American actor had so much literary activity while at the same time appearing on a big show like Downton Abbey and then on Broadway until earlier this month?


Ms. Yingling said...

Why we love the British. All that education. My first thoughts were... "Hugh Laurie. Nope. Brit. Stephen Fry, nope. John Cleese..." How about Steve Martin? His prose wasn't too bad.

Gail Gauthier said...

You're right. I did like one of his books, and I know he's well regarded as a writer.

But I think it could be argued that his literary work came after his acting career had peaked. It's like a second phase. Whereas last year, Dan Stevens' acting career was going gangbusters at the same time that he was getting started on a writing career. It's as if he's trying to pull them both off at once. He's so young. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain both or, if only one, which one it will be.

BookMoot said...

Seems like American actor-authors here have "co-writers" and mainly write autobiographical works as they reflect on their careers.

Sarah Rettger said...

We've also got Dan Stevens doing audiobook narration! He reads the enhanced e-book version of The Pleasure Seeker.

Sarah Rettger said...

History of a Pleasure Seeker. That's what I meant.

Gail Gauthier said...

I did read that he does audiobooks.