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Lytton Strachey: a Critical Biography; Vol.…

Lytton Strachey: a Critical Biography; Vol. 2, The Years of Achievement… (1968)

by Michael Holroyd

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Lytton Strachey A Critical Biography Volume II The Years of Achievement (1910-1932), by Michael Holroyd (read 21 May 1978) I hardly ever quit reading a book once I have started reading it, but I considered doing that with this book, because it was at times so revolting and meaningless. But towards the end it wasn't so bad. He died Jan 21, 1932, of cancer, though no one knew he had it till the autopsy. Medicine seems to have been really primitive--that recently! I don't know if I shall ever read anything Strachey wrote--it is a form of biography I do not like, and of course a greater antithesis than between what Strachey thought and what I think on some subjects could not exist. But this biography had its moments. I appreciated these lines on the death of his mother on Dec 15, 1928: "She could not clearly remember what had happened the day before, but incidents from her London life of over fifty years back lived vividly in her imagination--Browning's indignation at being called 'Robert' by a troop of unknown and unintroduced American women; Thompson reciting his poetry in a surging, monotonous voice; the night Salvini lost his shaven wig in the middle of Alfieri's Samson; George du Maurier singing French songs with a meticulous accent in his tiny, mosquito voice; the quiet and serious manner of George Eliot; and Carlyle's Homeric shouts of laughter. And farther back, and more vivid yet her mind retraced the incredible voyage out to India--the water spouts, the flying fish, the albatrosses wheeling overhead, the tremendous storms, the unearthly sea calms, and her mother playing the cottage piano on board the Trafalgar. Those far-off days in India were more real and dear to her than ever--there was Lord Lytton, the viceroy, in his blue silk dressing gown, and Lord Roberts, mending her sewing-machine; she could reexperience the excitement of the amateur theatricals in Calcutta, and remember the time she chased a leopard with a croquet mallet." ( )
  Schmerguls | Jan 15, 2009 |
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