Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With an admitted fascination for ``the sources and dynamic of the relationship between Vanessa and Virginia,'' Dunn ( Moon in Eclipse: A Life of Mary Shelley ) takes advantage of the voluminous letters, diaries, family papers and published writings of the Stephen/Woolf/Bell milieu in reconstructing a passionate and competitive sisterhood. Dunn eschews strict chronology to tell the story of the sisters thematically: their roles within the Stephen clan; as appreciative audiences for each other's artistic work; as nurturer and nurtured during family tragedy and Virginia's bouts of mental illness; and as beloved allies and rivals vis-a-vis their husbands, lovers, family and friends. Dunn overemphasizes Vanessa as an embodiment of maternal virtue, in contrast to Virginia's devotion to intellectual achievement, but her detailed portrait of their intimacy more than compensates for inevitable repetition as she develops her themes. This addition to the growing body of work on members of the Bloomsbury group provides a welcome overview and will appeal to readers not familiar with Woolf's life, as well as to her fans. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Library Journal
This well-written, well-documented study of the Stephen sisters' relationship is organized thematically rather than chronologically to describe the strong devotion and mutual dependence of Bell and Woolf as well as their different ways of dealing with parents, marriage, and the deaths of family members. While both were committed artists who encouraged and inspired each other's work, Dunn argues that they were also intensely competitive, but because they had different talents and personalities, they were able to excel in different spheres of their personal and professional lives and thus coexist. While most useful as a companion to more comprehensive biographies of the sisters, this book is is also an interesting case study of a sibling relationship. Recommended for collections in modern British literature and in family dynamics.-- Judy Mimken, Cardinal Stritch Coll., Milwaukee
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316196536
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 4/15/1991
  • Edition description: 1st American ed
  • Pages: 338

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