Modern Nature

l’ve recently finished reading Modern Nature by Derek Jarman. It’s a diary Jarman kept for two years during which he created a garden around Prospect Cottage, the wooden house he owned on the shingle at Dungeness, not far from the nuclear power station which looms over the book much as it looms over the seashore there. He had by that time been diagnosed with HIV and his thoughts and feelings about this are an important part of the book. I started reading it because I’ve been getting into Jarman’s films and found myself wanting to find out more about a man who was, in a way, to the end of the twentieth century what Oscar Wilde was to the end of the nineteenth. Sorry, Stranglers: Jarman was a hero. In the book, he says of his HIV diagnosis: “As I sweat it out in the early hours, a ‘guilty victim’ of the scourge, I want to bear witness to how happy I am, and will be till the day I die, that I was part of the hated sexual revolution; and that I don’t regret a single step or encounter I made in that time; and if I write in future with regret, it will be a reflection of a temporary indisposition.”

4 thoughts on “Modern Nature

  1. I struggled a bit with this book. I loved the parts which dealt with his making of the garden (I have always wanted to see it in all its beauty – there is no doubt it is quite unique) and I could cope with some of the rest but eventually the sexual content just got too much to be bothered with. I am in no way against homosexuality but he did seem to repeat himsel quite a lot

    1. I think the passage from from the book I quoted in the post puts the sexual content into context. I think he was determined in the nicest possible way to be himself and not to “edit” himself for the benefit of people who might disapprove of his way of life.

    1. I hope you enjoy it! I think it’s a great book. The diary spans two years. Myself, I found the first year harder going than the second, which I romped through. By the end I was pleased I’d read both. As for background, there are lots of documentaries about and interviews with Jarman out there on YouTube, etc.

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