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On or About December 1910: Early Bloomsbury and Its Intimate World
     

On or About December 1910: Early Bloomsbury and Its Intimate World

by Peter Stansky
 

"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. This book captures the dazzling world of Bloomsbury at the end of an era, and on the eve of

Overview

"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. This book captures the dazzling world of Bloomsbury at the end of an era, and on the eve of modernism.

Peter Stansky depicts the vanguard of a rising generation seizing its moment. He shows us Woolf in that fateful year, in the midst of an emotional breakdown, reaching a turning point with her first novel, The Voyage Out, and E. M. Forster, already a success, offering Howards End and acknowledging his passion for another man. Here are Roger Fry, prominent art critic and connoisseur, remaking tradition with the epochal exhibition "Manet and the Post-Impressionists"; Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant beginning their most interesting phase as artists; Lytton Strachey signing the contract for his first book; and John Maynard Keynes entering a significant new stage in his illustrious career.

Amid the glittering opulence and dismal poverty, the swirl of Suffragists, anarchists, agitators, and organizers, Stansky—drawing upon his historical and literary skills—brings the intimate world of the Bloomsbury group to life. Their lives, relationships, writings, and ideas entwine, casting one member after another in sharp relief. Even their Dreadnought Hoax, a trick played on the sacred institution of the navy, reveals their boldness and esprit. The picture Stansky presents, with all its drama and detail, encompasses the conflicts and sureties of a changing world of politics, aesthetics, and character.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Stansky's title derives from a retrospective remark in Virginia Woolf's 1924 essay "Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown" that "on or about December 1910 human character changed." Certainly during that time, Bloomsbury was coalescing and defining itself. Woolf was at work on her first novel, The Voyage Out (eventually published in 1915) and E.M. Forster published Howard's End; others in the group were busily establishing their reputations. The year 1910 culminated in a celebrated and controversial London exhibition, "Manet and the Post-Impressionists," which introduced modern European art to Britain. Curated by Roger Fry, it included a generous collection of paintings by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Czanne, Matisse and Picasso. Woolf, naturally, is seen as a central figure in the nascent Bloomsbury group, but this book is peopled with many others both central and peripheral, who by their unconventional attitudes and behavior challenged tradition and authority. Stanford history professor Stansky (Journey to the Frontier: Two Roads to the Spanish Civil War) discusses not only personal relationships but also involvement in and reaction to social change. The general election of 1910, the death of King Edward VII in May, the publication of the famed 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the ongoing woman's suffrage movement are all discussed, as is the so-called Dreadnought Hoax, in which Woolf and others, posing as visiting Abyssinian princes, were received abroad the battleship Dreadnought and caused the British government some embarrassment. The wealth of material here, much of it already familiar, doesn't lend itself to linear development and overflows the confines indicated by the title, but the book will be of keen interest to Bloomsburyians. Photos. (Oct.)
Library Journal
The title, and Stansky's (history, Stanford Univ.) premise, come from Virginia Woolf's famous quote, "On or about December 1910 human character changed." Stansky examines the lives to date of the about-to-be-famous Bloomsbury circle of friends, lovers, and artists, along with the crucial events of that year, culminating in the controversial London exhibition, "Manet and the Post-Impressionists." He brings together the many strands of personal, literary, social, and artistic history that were to form the core of the modernist movement. Although much of this information can be gleaned from the individual biographies, this intense focus on a single, eventful year, rather than on the personalities, is quite successful. Stansksy is able to give a vivid and immediate understanding of an era important to students of 20th-century culture. For general and special collections.Shelley Cox, Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674636057
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
10/28/1996
Series:
Studies in Cultural History Series
Pages:
300
Product dimensions:
6.37(w) x 9.49(h) x 1.05(d)

Meet the Author

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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