Pevsner and Betjeman

'Much has been made of the Pevsner/Betjeman discord by  observers who enjoy other people’s fights.... Pevsner   became well aware of Betjeman’s dislike of him – he could scarcely have missed it – but he never returned it with any sustained ill will of his own. ‘Vendetta’ would be a more accurate description, and this vendetta was one of a string  which Betjeman made part of his public persona.

 

Betjeman made his dislike of Pevsner a conversational leitmotif and used it, like his other vendettas, as a channel for a complex of other emotions – insecurity, disappointment, fear, envy – as well as to express some of his fundamental attitudes towards art, architecture and religion.

 

The two men were temperamentally poles apart, they approached architecture from different directions, and, in the mind of one of them at least, there were professional rivalries between them. But the degree of venom with which Betjeman expressed his detestation of Pevsner was startling, and the roots of his rancour lay below aesthetic differences of opinion or professional jealousies, inextricably tangled with some of his most profound convictions and apprehensions.'

© 2015 Susie Harries