The revivalist series was created to draw attention to important thinkers who were forgotten or neglected. At the time Barry was not in that category and the idea was to remined people that he was not a typical arty lefty but a man with strong libertarian/conservative principles.
Barry Humphries has a healthy international reputation so does not need to be introduced, however there is an aspect of his character and his vision that is not fully appreciated. He is not a member of the ‘trendy left’, instead he is a kind of evolutionary conservative and a firm friend of Quadrant, the liberal/conservative magazine. This places him well beyond the pale of respectability in the eyes of the progressive intelligentsia and the overwhelming majority of the artistic and literary community.
This is the first edition of the series featuring Jacques Barzun and James McAuley, the founding editor of Quadrant magazine. The series is a monument to the art and artistry of my late wife Kilmeny Niland.
Another item in the first Revivalist makes interesting reading nowadays. The late Roger Sandall meditated on the tactics of the Arabs taking on the Ottoman Empire.
T. E. Lawrence’s account of the way his Arab cutthroats would beat the Turks makes eerie reading today. He asked himself how a handful of fierce zealots, whose main activities had been pilfering and brigandage, could possibly bring the Ottoman Empire to its knees. Obviously not by punching toe to toe with Turkish artillery.
“But suppose” (he writes in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom) “suppose we were an influence, an idea, a thing invulnerable, intangible, without front or back, drifting about like a gas?” Conventional armies were large and immobile, and conventional generals equally so. Instead, “we might be a vapour, blowing where it listed. Our kingdoms lay in each man’s mind.”