Bennett, Alan. “Keeping On Keeping On”, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.
Diaries and Essays, 2005 to 2015
Alan Bennett’s third collection of prose, “Keeping On Keeping On” is hilarious, revealing, and intelligent. It is made up of Bennett’s diaries from 2005 to 2015 including his much celebrated essays, his irreverent comic pieces and reviews. Taken as a whole, it reflects a decade in which Bennett had four major theater premieres and the films of “The History Boys” and “The Lady in the Van”. This is a classic history of a life in letters.
Bennett writes about the injustices of private education, Maggie Thatcher and the creeping erosion of the British National Health Service as he shares what it was like to become famous. He shares his feelings about those he calls “the hypocritical English” even though he comes from a working family that was also hypocritical. He is amazed by his own ‘success,’ both as an entertainer and as a moral crusader. He writes about justice, or “fairness” and about being simply being ordinary (the way he sees himself). He loves churches, country life, picnics and he really loves, as we see here, reminiscing.
Bennett abhors commerce and the public commercialization of standard rights and feels that the right of entry to public buildings, mainly National Trust properties and libraries should be run by private companies. Bennett has something to say about politicians and sees Thatcher as evil even though her electorate loved her. He sees Tony Blair as a traitor.
Bennett writes with wit, insight, honesty and a rage against injustice and fakery and has interesting thoughts on some major events. He makes us think and causes us to laugh (with him). He believes that there is hope that the world is civilized and humane.