I discovered Oxford in a very old issue of an italian magazine dedicated to Italians who wants to learn english. It was a dream to me that atmosphere, sophisticated, exclusive. At that time I was just 14 years old. Oxford, Britain so different from our schools and atmosphere.
I wouldn't never imagined that in the future I would have been in grade to read with passion Oxford Press books and neither that I would have reviewed them. No, because dreams are dreams and this one was a dream to me.
I can tell you that I also found a wonderful warm team of people with which I collaborate at Oxford Press and I am very happy for it.
So with these premises you can imagine that I was more than tempted when I noticed this photographic book just called: Oxford written in pictures mostly by Martin Parr.
I love photography. I am an addicted of photographic books, plus re-discovering Oxford from the inside...
I requested it immediately and thrilled my expectations plenty confirmed. It's a photographic jewel that you can't lose to buying.
There is a big warm in Oxford, for what I can see, with a big sense of normality, relaxation, but at the same time there is a special vibe, an energy and an enthusiasm that it is wonderful and captivating.
Oxford is solid with its traditions,timeless tables where generations of students studied, ate, shared their dreams and expectations, immense libraries, good memories.
Alumni of decades ago won't forget this special place and they will see each others for special events, remembering the old times when they studied there, without forgetting these new students with their diversified voices.
Pictures portray the normality of gestures. Knitting with the group of "Knitters Friends" yes, there is also this group in Oxford, but I found fascinating also the Oxford University Press Choir, a picture of the head gardener of Corpus Christy College mr David Leake.
You will admire the hierarchy of various teachers, and traditions and customs like the ones of Oration at the beginning of each academy year in Convocation House.
Bodleian library where students study and research. The camera of mr. Parr will try to penetrate in the most peaceful place of Oxford finding busy students absorbed to studying.
I want to remember a picture taken by mr. Parr with Stephen Hawkin dead today, the most important physician after Albert Einstein so in love for black holes and the mystery still hidden by them during the opening of the Weston Library. A man who created a dialogue between common people and science with an accessible language, trying to transmit his love for physics and astronomy to everyone, being very popular. He appeared on The Simpson, The Big Band Theory.
Once when I looked at a picture of Simon Tsang, custodian of Christ Church I thought: oh, look, what a paradisiac place, it seems Harry Potter's Hogwarts.
Ahem, yes I completely forgot it: most of scenes of Harry Potter were filmed in Christ Church! That picture is a real passport for the magical land of Harry Potter's world just in a click. Impressive.
Oxford celebrated famous feasts like the Summer Heights.
You can see pictures of beautiful, very good-looking boys, happy and cheerful during various sportive or mundane events.
There is a big curiosity: for the first time after 800 years Professor Louise Richardson a woman became vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford.
I can't help myself but I couldn't stop to crying looking at the pictures of graduation. It's a step reached, and one of the most beautiful of the existence. It's not just study. It's a phase of the existence where a boy or a girl lived with other colleagues, experienced, breathed a certain atmosphere, grew up, matured, studied, learnt now ready for winning other fights.
No sure if you knew it, but exams are taken in academic dress. White carnation is for the first exam, pink for an ongoing exam and red for the final one.
But look: graduation won't leave too many tears to your eyes after that you will see what happens after the ceremony to graduated students!!! for their fun, fun of their friends and our own fun and smiles.
Did you know that dogs are banned from Oxford colleges? Yes, they are but...There is an intruder. And he is admitted! A little dog proudly called cat. Better not asking him what he thinks of that name maybe he would be upset, who knows?
I have had the sensation looking at these pictures that people are relaxed, cheerful, joyous, happy confirming me that where there is culture there is peace. In every sense.
Don't lose the afterword by Simon Winchester!
Highly recommended book to everyone!
I thank so much Oxford University Press for the physical copy of its soul.
Anna Maria Polidori