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Bloomsbury: A House of Lions

by Leon Edel

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249492,214 (3.63)8
Examines the lives, careers, achievements, and influence of the "Bloomsburies": economist Maynard Keynes, political scientist Leonard Woolf, authors Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey, critics Clive Bell and Desmond MacCarthy, and painters Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell, and Roger Fry.
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Showing 4 of 4
Spending time with Virginia Woolf and court. An absorbing book read from the perspective of someone who has delved into Bloomsbury biographies for forty or more years and devoured any book about the Bloomsbury Group I could find. My main quibble is the elephant in the room. How to trust a book written in 1979, when homosexuality was legal, and which talks about Maynard and Lytton's homosexuality and totally ignores Duncan and Bunny and the triangle with Vanessa.
I had started with Lytton Strachey and slowly read works, mainly biographies/letters/diaries on Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, Roger Fry, Clive Bell, Maynard Keynes, Lydia Lopokova, Carrington, Desmond MacCathy, and Duncan Grant, etc. There were others, of course, on the fringe such as David Garnett, Ottoline Morrell, Angelica Bell, Aldous Huxley but the former were the individuals who continued to fascinate me, as they still do today in fact, was I reread my entire collection once more.

Leon Edel has written an amazing book here (published by the "ever-famous" Hogarth Press in 1979) and the following review given upon its publication couldn't have been better:

"With sustained literary power Leon Edel has brought into a strong, unified narrative all the complicated lives - hilarious, eccentric, and often tragic - of these gifted and inexorable individualists who together made up the most notorious literary coterie of modern England."

I couldn't have put it better myself.

This is actually quite an intimate portrait of these individuals' lives and the images of paintings by Vanessa Bell of the "divine" Duncan Grant, Leonard Woolf, Virginia Woolf, etc. show the remarkable painting style of this multi-faceted individual.

I particularly liked the parts about Leonard's time in Ceylon, times and life in Gordon Square and especially to see Virginia Stephen, as she was at the time, slowing developing with her own unique writing style, thanks to the men who surrounded her, I believe. Her style may also have been influenced by the sudden tragic death of her brother Thoby in 1906 and her depressions leading to nervous breakdowns throughout her life.

A delightful book and highly recommended to Bloomsbury lovers and admirers. ( )
  Karen74Leigh | Sep 23, 2020 |
Group O1
  gilsbooks | May 21, 2011 |
If your new to the Bloomsbury Group this is a good start as it gives a well depicated social & cultural view of each member up to adulthood . Easy reading and holds interest ( )
1 vote DeadFred | Feb 6, 2010 |
Much more than mere character sketches of THE proto-counter-culture, it's an intriguing examination of a high-gain artistic mileau.
  kencf0618 | Aug 26, 2006 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Examines the lives, careers, achievements, and influence of the "Bloomsburies": economist Maynard Keynes, political scientist Leonard Woolf, authors Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey, critics Clive Bell and Desmond MacCarthy, and painters Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell, and Roger Fry.

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