The Edwardians: London Life and Letters, 1901-1914

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Looking at London life and letters from 1901 to 1914 with a wicked eye, Mr. Paterson captures the excitement and rebellion of the age's art and literature, sex and society, politics and laabor.

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Overview

Looking at London life and letters from 1901 to 1914 with a wicked eye, Mr. Paterson captures the excitement and rebellion of the age's art and literature, sex and society, politics and laabor.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, London embraced change in cultural and political institutions that had long enjoyed respect for tradition. Paterson (The Making of `The Return of the Native'), a professor of English at UC-Berkeley, examines these changes in rambling, anecdotal chapters that deal with the lives of well-known Londoners who participated in this social upheaval. In 1906, the liberals were elected to Parliament and the socialist ideas of H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw were in vogue. The Bloomsbury circle of artists (e.g., Roger Fry), authors (e.g., Virginia Woolf) and writers such as D. H. Lawrence and Ford Madox Ford contributed to a climate of artistic experimentation. Cultural mores changed dramatically as women began demanding sexual freedom as well as the vote, and homosexuality gained acceptance in some London circles. Unfortunately, the disorganized text and the breathless style will interest only those already familiar with the period. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
Booknews
Paterson (English, U. of California-Berkeley) describes the exuberance of post-victorian London, which saw upheavals in art and literature, sex and society, politics, labor, education, taxes, and above all in social behavior. James and Conrad, Shaw and Yeats, Bennett and Wells, Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West Katherine Masfield, Ezra Pound, Bertrand Russell, and David Lloyd George are among the luminaries that appear. Includes a photo gallery. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Mary Carroll
Paterson transports readers to the salons and street battles, the political debates and aesthetic conflicts of London in the years between the shocking news of Victoria's death and the outbreak in Sarajevo of what many hoped would be a "remedial" war for a sick civilization. In pithy, fluid, sometimes gossipy chapters, Paterson examines beekeeping and bicycles; Fabians and feminists; political reforms and philosophical fencing; ever-changing styles in drama, the novel, poetry, and art; and the struggle for sexual as well as social freedom. Paterson humanizes the characters who populate his canvas--James and Conrad, the Bloomsbury crowd, Bennett and Wells, Shaw and the Webbs, Asquith and Churchill, the Pankhursts and Lady Ottoline Morrell, Lawrence and Pound, among others--by examining their pettinesses and peccadilloes as well as their credos and accomplishments. "Edwardians" is a vivid, impressionistic portrait of a turbulent era that shut the door on aspects of the Victorian consensus while setting the terms for political and artistic arguments that remain relevant as the century that that era opened draws to a close.
Kirkus Reviews
Paterson (English/Univ. of Calif., Berkeley; The Novel as Faith, 1973) thematically arranges the Edwardian era into a series of brief studies, with anecdotes drawn from the works of Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Hueffer, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, and everyone else who was anyone then.

Satisfyingly stuffed with encounters, vignettes, and aphoristic quotes, the book gives a rambling and impressionistic tour of the era after Queen Victoria, when England found itself adrift but flourishing at its imperial apex. When not quoting from G.B. Shaw, H.G. Wells, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster, and other initialized literary lions, Paterson sounds much like them, his tone ranging from the sardonic to the rhapsodic as he explores such subjects as politics, mores, art, letters, and sex in London. Cultural movements, not to mention fads, included the rediscovery of rural England (and holiday-making) and the rise of clerks and typists (and their taste for novels). All the familiar social concerns, and literary gossip, of the Edwardians—be it the Fabian feuds of Shaw and Wells, the friendships of Conrad and James, Bloomsbury's social rebellion, or Mrs. Pankhurst's suffragette protests—are treated. If this retro-perspective seems limited, it is nonetheless a reflection of a culture in which dining with duchesses was the literary pursuit of J.M. Barrie, a gypsy caravan the address of the artist Augustus John, and a ménage à trois the minimum for Clive and Vanessa Bell. Paterson pursues the Edwardian zeitgeist across its varied and vibrant years with assurance.

Enjoyable for its own enjoyment of the era, this period piece collection of literary snapshots and group portraits adds up to an engaging, if familiar, album.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566631013
  • Publisher: Ivan R Dee
  • Publication date: 4/1/1996
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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