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"On or about December 1910 human character changed", Virginia Woolf remarked, and well she might have. The company she kept, the Bloomsbury circle, took shape before the coming of World War I, and would have a lasting impact on English society and culture after the war. Drawing upon historical and literary evidence, Peter Stansky captures the dazzling world of early Bloomsbury. The picture he presents, with all its drama and detail, encompasses the conflicts and sureties of a changing world of politics, aesthetics, and character. Stansky makes it clear how Bloomsbury could subvert Edwardian materialism from a position of financial security and family connections and places Bloomsbury's artistic and domestic rebellions against the backdrop of the women's suffrage movement, military buildup, and the struggle to limit the power of the House of Lords.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674636064
ISBN-10: 0674636066
Format: Paperback
(235mm x 155mm x 16mm)
Pages: 300
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 30-Sep-1997
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions


US Kirkus Review » For the last several decades, the Bloomsbury industry has operated at a frenetic pace, as biographies, histories, slim appreciations, ane large catalogues have streamed forth from the academic mill. So little has been left unsaid that most writers are now reduced to a desperate search for something new to say, as is the case with Stansky's (Orwell: The Transformation, 1980, etc.) disjointed chronicle of a supposedly watershed year in the life of Bloomsbury and British society. His inspiration is Virginia Woolfs passing remark in her essay, "Mr. Bennett and Mr. Brown," that since 1910, "All human relations have shifted." Stansky's search for supporting evidence isn't much helped by Bloomsbury. Most of the figures in that extended circle had yet to shake their undergraduate habits of dilettantism. Woolf and Lytton Strachey were working sporadically on their first books. John Maynard Keynes, Vanessa Bell, and Duncan Grant had all accomplished little of substance. E.M. Forester, however, with the publication of Howard's End, did achieve a degree of critical acclaim. Outside of Bloomsbury, 1910 saw two Parliamentary elections which led to extended suffrage (though not yet for women) and the terminal decline of the Liberal Party, but there was little else that shook the status quo. Stansky's defense of 1910's protean importance, in the end, comes down to the year-end, Postimpressionist show organized by Bloomsbury's Roger Fry and Desmond McCarthy. Featuring artists such as van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse, and Gauguin, it was enormously controversial, reviled as "savage," "crude," and "pornographic." In spite of the venomous attacks, it did serve to introduce the British to Modernism, but did that really change society? Despite a game effort, Stansky ultimately fails to prove his thesis. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Peter Stansky

Peter Stansky is the Frances and Charles Field Professor of History at Stanford University, author, among other works, of Redesigning the World: William Morris, the 1880s, and the Arts and Crafts, and coauthor of Journey to the Frontier: Two Roads to the Spanish Civil War.

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