I really enjoyed Eminent Victorians, though it has parts that are difficult to ge through, and one must have a smattering of Latin and French (or Google Translate in this day and age), as the author uses both liberally.
“Questi infallibilisti mi faranno fallire,” said his Holiness.
The cloud of his dejection began to lift; et l’espoir malgre lui s’est glisse dans son coeur.
[both from “Cardinal Manning”]
Things such as that are sprinkled throughout the text without explanation or translation. That’s my only real qualm with this set of biographies. There are several asides that made me smirk a bit, such as
It did not occur to them, apparently, that a constitutional Catholicism might be a contradiction in terms, and that the Catholic Church without the absolute dominion of the Pope might resemble the play of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.
[from “Cardinal Manning”]
A “nurse” meant then a coarse old woman, always ignorant, usually dirty, often brutal, a Mrs. Gamp, in bunched-up sordid garments, tippling at the brandy-bottle or indulging in worse irregularities.
[from “Florence Nightingale”]
At his age, even if he survived the work and the climate, he could hardly look forward to any subsequent appointment; he would return from the Congo, old and worn out, to a red-brick villa and extinction.
[from “General Gordon”]
It was entertaining and a unique viewpoint to certain parts of history of which I was ignorant. Three of five stars.
Ways of Seeing, on the contrary, was a total bust for me. I found it fairly incomprehensible and difficult to get through, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t finish it. I couldn’t follow along but I’m going to finish the other Art books and give it another go once I’ve more of a handle on the subject matter.