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The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T.…

The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M.… (edition 2017)

by Bill Goldstein (Author)

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Title:The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature
Authors:Bill Goldstein (Author)
Info:Henry Holt and Co. (2017), 368 pages
Collections:Your library

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The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster and the Year That Changed Literature by Bill Goldstein



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The web of all four writers hinges both on their mutual relationships and on the censorship issues of their time. A very interesting read and fascinating study for the literary ones among us. Well-written and easily engaged. On a personal note I did find Virginia Woolf imminently more interesting than the three men also intimately exposed. ( )
  MSarki | Aug 7, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A great deal of important writing occurred in 1922. Joyce's controversial Ulysses was published in February and everyone wanted to read it. F. Scott Fitzgerald published in March. Proust's In Search of Lost Time and Sinclair Lewis's Babbit were published in September. It was a good year for children's books, too. The Velveteen Rabbit (Margery Williams) and Dr. Doolittle (Hugh Lofting) were both published in 1922. But, for Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, and D.H. Lawrence 1922 started out primarily as an empty page, a blank stare, a "literary apocalypse" as Goldstein called it. All four suffered from a lack of inspiration; the dreaded writer's block. Shocking, as all had been successful in previous years. 1922 started with Virginia being perpetually ill with fevers well over one hundred degrees. Tom was busy being intimidated by James Joyce. Morgan was hung up on a relationship he started in India. Lawrence was trying to settle on the perfect place to write. The end of 1922 would see the emergence of Mrs. Dalloway and Jacob's Room, Eliot's epic poem, "The Waste Land" would be published in October amid scandal, Lawrence would share his autobiographical Kangaroo, and Forster finds inspiration in the start of A Passage to India.

As an aside, I thoroughly enjoyed certain phrasings Goldstein used throughout his book. To name a few, "emotional slither" and "clawful enthusiasm." I can only hope the imagery I conjured up as a result of these word pairings is what Goldstein intended. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jul 27, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
1922 was the year that ‘Ulysses’ was published and Proust’s work was translated into English. Willa Cather declared that the world broke in two in that year, because these were literary works that were distinctly different from all that had come before them. These works had effects on other writers, of course- Virginia Woolf said, after reading Proust “Well, what remains to be written after that?” Thankfully, after being unable to write due to illnesses both mental and physical, she found a new voice within her and created both “Jacob’s Room” and “Mrs. Dalloway”.

T.S. Eliot felt trapped by both his day job at a bank and his invalid wife. His own neuroses did not help; he had a great deal of trouble letting go of his new work “The Wasteland” and was an incredible frustration to the people who wanted to publish the poem.

D.H. Lawrence was traveling the world, trying to find a place where he felt he could write in peace. People seemed to be dying to have him stay with them, even though he was quite unreasonable about his situation, wanting to be put up by friends but also wanting to be left strictly alone. During this time he watched censorship battles being fought over his work, and published “Kangaroo” (which I had never heard of) and “Aaron’s Rod”.

E.M. Forster had writer’s block for well over a decade, but in this year managed to finish a book he’d started long before: “A Passage to India”. His life was unhappy; a closeted gay man in an era that did not allow homosexuality, he did not want to suffer the same fate as Oscar Wilde. His mental outlook wasn’t helped by living with his aging, control freak mother.

These four authors were affected by Joyce and Proust, even those who did not like the work they produced. They were also profoundly affected by the recent World War; “The Wasteland” and “Mrs Dalloway” both contain reactions to that.

The entwined biographies of the four, and what they published in 1922, make a good picture of how modernist writing was being created. The book is not fast reading (I tended to skip over a good deal of Eliot’s parts) but it’s good writing and the research is meticulous. Four stars out of five. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Jul 18, 2017 |
Willa Cather pronounced that 'the world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts'. WWI had been one of the most devastating conflicts in world history, leaving 41 million dead. Those who survived combat returned home wounded in body and soul and mind. Vast stretches of Europe had been turned into a wasteland, leaving millions of refugees. The Victorian world view and values were irrelevant and archaic. A new world view was arising from the ashes.

The World Broke in Two by Bill Goldstein presents the personal and artistic struggles of T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and D. H. Lawrence to create literature that spoke to this changed world.

James Joyce's Ulysses and the newly translated In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust were the literary sensations of the day. T. S. Eliot was a huge promoter of Joyce's book, which Lawrence found unreadable. Proust was a huge influence on Woolf, as was Eliot's poem The Waste Land which he had read aloud at her home. Forster was inspired by Proust. Each writer was searching for a new voice and vision.

"Well--what remains to be written after that?" Virginia Woolf after reading Proust in 1922

The authors' personal lives were a mess.

Eliot suffered a nervous breakdown and had an ill wife. He could not seem to let go of his poem The Wasteland and strung publishers along. He wore green tinted makeup to appear even more pathetic.

It had been years since Forster's last published novel. He lived with his smothering mother and was sexually frustrated, longing for love. He escaped by taking a position in India. He fell in love with a younger, married man who played the lovestruck Forster. And then the man died. Forster was in grief, unable to finish what was to become his last novel, A Passage to India.

Woolf was ill much of the year. She was trying to find a voice and style that was new. Mrs. Dalloway started as a minor character but was growing into her own novel. Goldstein writes that Joyce, Proust, and Eliot seemed to raise the question: "What connects it together?" Woolf sought to find "some sort of fusion" that was missing in Ulysses and The Waste Land.

And Lawrence continued to wander the world with Frieda, his novels banned as obscene. They had left England in 1917, going to Australia, and then America. Invited to live in Taos, he determined to write an "American novel from that centre."

The Waste Land was finally published late in the year, and a monetary prize was given to Eliot. He left his bank job to work for the publisher that became Faber and Faber. Forster's novel A Passage To India was published in 1924, dedicated to his beloved, and became a best seller. Lawrence published Aaron's Rod in 1922 and his Australian novel Kangaroo the following year. He became financially comfortable. Woolf's story Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street was published in 1923 and her novel Mrs. Dalloway in 1925.

My first Forster book was A Passage to India. I discovered Eliot in my late teens. Woolf was a later happy discovery; I have also read several books about her life. Although I have not read Lawrence's novels I have enjoyed his stories and poetry. And, in college, I had an honors course on Joyce's Ulysses.With this background, I was very interested in learning about the relationship between these writers and how they were inspired by Joyce and Proust.

I had not realized how much of Eliot's personal life can be found in The Wasteland, including clips of conversations. The oppression felt in the poem was very personal, rooted in his private life, as well as influenced by his contemporary world. Forster, Woolf, and Eliot suffered from depression and were emotionally fragile. Poor Forster, unable to be open about his sexual orientation, writing about love between men and women and longing for a fulfilling adult love of his own.

A reviewer I read said she would not want to spend time with any of these writers. I found that sad. I am amazed to think what these authors accomplished considering the burdens they labored under, Eliot working in a dull office job, his loveless marriage and ill wife; lonely Forster staying with his overbearing mother; Woolf fighting depression; Lawrence driven from place to place with Frieda. All having seen a devastating war upend everything that seemed permanent.

I found Goldstein's book an interesting read both as biography and as an examination of an important moment in literature.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. ( )
  nancyadair | Jul 17, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
If you're a fan of Woolf, Eliot, Lawrence, or Foster or literature of the 20s then you'll probably find something in this book to intrigue you. Outside of literary buffs, the book would probably struggle to find an audience as it is fairly biographical of the authors' lives. My one complaint is that the text switches around fairly regularly between the authors and it can sometimes become confusing as to whom is being discussed.
  Jahoclave | Jul 16, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805094024, Hardcover)

A revelatory narrative of the intersecting lives and works of revered authors Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence during 1922, the birth year of modernism

The World Broke in Two tells the fascinating story of the intellectual and personal journeys four legendary writers, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, and D. H. Lawrence, make over the course of one pivotal year. As 1922 begins, all four are literally at a loss for words, confronting an uncertain creative future despite success in the past. The literary ground is shifting, as Ulysses is published in February and Proust’s In Search of Lost Time begins to be published in England in the autumn. Yet, dismal as their prospects seemed in January, by the end of the year Woolf has started Mrs. Dalloway, Forster has, for the first time in nearly a decade, returned to work on the novel that will become A Passage to India, Lawrence has written Kangaroo, his unjustly neglected and most autobiographical novel, and Eliot has finished―and published to acclaim―“The Waste Land."

As Willa Cather put it, “The world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts,” and what these writers were struggling with that year was in fact the invention of modernism. Based on original research, Bill Goldstein's The World Broke in Two captures both the literary breakthroughs and the intense personal dramas of these beloved writers as they strive for greatness.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 15 Mar 2017 11:30:15 -0400)

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