This is memoir as exorcism it represents nothing so much as an emergence from the dark into the light EpilogueAngelica Garnett spent seven years writing this memoir, working through the emotions of her childhood and subsequent marriage, in the hope of extricating herself from their strong grip Some novelists find writing about loss or the story of a parent therapeutic, which does not always work In Angelica s case, she reveals feelings and failings, good and bad, in a remarkably candid and perceptive way She does not spare herself Some may call it self pity, and indeed she acknowledges the existence of the Stephens gene of self pity I call it facing reality as she saw it a tool for survival in her case, though unfortunately her aunt Virginia did not get rid of her demons Virginia saw life as it was in the raw, and her vision was exacerbated by the war and her nephew Julian s death read about Septimus in Mrs Dalloway.
As is well known, Virginia put stones in her pockets and walked into the river Here is what Angelica writes Leonard, white from exhaustion, though as always objective and dispassionate, sat in the drawing room and told us how they had found her body in the river that Juliian had loved and where I could remember a dolphin that had once tempted Virginia down to the bank to stand beside us, watching its strange and lovely antics Angelica never forgot her aunt s intense response to the natural world.
Angelica managed to order and resurrect her complex thoughts in the face of the tangled relationships of her parents and their entourage It makes me almost understand why people in society feel the need for taboos and rules, and why they impose them It does away with, or at least contains, the messiness of love and sex.
Her mother Vanessa she considered already old Later came the shock of being told that Duncan Grant was her father, not Clive Bell, Vanessa s husband Duncan was already in the m nage trois, and Vanessa had long ceased to be sexually attracted to Clive Clive was a womaniser, as was Duncan Weren t they all Bunny Garnett, too, a friend of the family, whom Angelica married when she was just 19 She had four children before she finally left him He was considerably older, a father figure who tried to mould her according to his needs She learnt he had been her father Duncan s lover, and had also once made advances to Vanessa, which she had rejected All these emotions, jealousy, love rivalry went into the mix It was interesting for me in many ways She is a shrewd and fair judge of character The portraits of Leonard Woolf, the Stracheys, Roger Fry and everyone she gets to know are vivid, and tie in with what we have learnt from other sources She recalls incidents and her surroundings, even those from an early age Virginia gave Angelica an allowance, which she often forgot to bring with her she had to ask Leonard to pay me by cheque It was a little like extracting water from a stone Although Leonard did not protest, he went through the process of finding and putting on spectacles, which made him look like a nanging judge, plunging his hand into some inner pocket to draw out his cheque book, then his pen, from which he uscrewed the cap with some difficulty, and finally writing and signing the cheque with a trembling hand in complete silence all of which seemed a test of endurance In the end he handed it over to me with a half smile, like the flash of a needle under water During the winter of the war, Angelica meets a young German, Eribert and invites him to her birthday party Bunny treats her to an outburst of devastating jealousy At the party, Eribert must have been totally bewildered by that unconventional household in a strange country with hardly any knowledge of the language he found himself in a situation rather like that of Le Grand Meaulnes, in a remote farmhouse full of people of all ages in evening dress, intimate and familiar, related to one another in ways that to him were a mystery People s manners were free and easy, they were out to enjoy themselves, there was a defiant abundance of food and drink, and afterwards music and dancing Every time Clive addressed Eribert, he rose to his feet, clicked heels together and saluted I have long been and still am an admirer of Virginia Woolf I absolutely loved Charleston farmhouse when I visited it many years ago Angelica s writing recalls a lost world, albeit a disturbing one when viewed closely Art and painting were paramount in their lives, writing, in Virginia s case The demands of sex, of life itself were resisted and indulged equally, creating tensions For me, the tangle of emotions, the messiness, Vanessa s laisser faire, Virginia s astute and perceptivel observations thought by some to be cruel , are not as important as the works the gifted sisters produced Reading about their lives does not detract from the paintings, the wonderful Charleston, the novels I dislike it when they are all lumped together and labelled as Bloomsbury , as if it s a term of abuse They had to belong somewhere, just like everybody else they had to have friends and a way of life That way of life damaged Angelica, yet who knows if she might not have suffered equally under a less relaxed, less indulgent regimen In any case, she survived emotionally to recreate compassionate portraits and a milieu that still fascinates.
Angelica Garnett May Truly Be Called A Child Of Bloomsbury Her Aunt Was Virginia Woolf, Her Mother Vanessa Bell, And Her Father Duncan Grant, Though For Many Years Angelica Believed Herself, Naturally Enough, The Daughter Of Vanessa S Husband CliveHer Childhood Homes, Charleston In Sussex And Gordon Square In London, Were Both Centres Of Bloomsbury Activity, And She Grew Up Surrounded By The Most Talked About Writers And Artists Of The Day Leonard And Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry, The Stracheys, Maynard Keynes, David Garnett Whom She Later Married , And Many OthersBut Deceived With Kindness Is Also A Record Of A Young Girl S Particular Struggle To Achieve Independence From That Extraordinary And Intense Milieu As A Mature And Independent Woman With An Honesty That Is By Degrees Agonising And Uplifting, The Author Creates A Vibrant, Poignant Picture Of Her Mother, Vanessa Bell, Of Her Own Emergent Individuality, And Of The Bloomsbury Era Un vialetto di ghiaia nelle scarpeNon il tipo di libro che avrei letto, perch le vite degli artisti sono spesso deludenti rispetto alle opere e l autrice nipote di Virginia Woolf L ho letto perch me l ha messo in mano un amica e comunque risultato piacevole, venato di colori e di un involontario umorismo La protagonista non ha avuto una vita felice e come molti, in questi casi, va a cercarne le ragioni fuori da s , in particolare le attribuisce alla madre La madre Vanessa Bell era una pittrice post impressionista, le cui opere sono nei principali musei londinesi Qualche volta il libro, con le dovute differenze, ricorda Beautiful la madre le ha nascosto chi era il padre biologico, non Clive ma Duncan Non per biechi motivi di interesse, ma per non dare un dispiacere ai suoceri Non cambiava molto, tanto sia Clive che Duncan erano sempre fra i piedi e in campagna c era posto per tutti Per si sentiva in colpa e quindi l ha allevata con la massima dolcezza, sottraendola a ogni confronto stressante, impedendole cos di sviluppare la propria personalit Probabilmente vero, tuttavia l amatissimo fratello Julian morto nella guerra di Spagna e la zia Virginia gestiva una casa editrice e ha scritto, fra le altre opere, Una stanza tutta per s il fratello Quentin stato un brillante critico letterario e scrittore divertentissimo Il sospetto di una scarsa intraprendenza e di una tendenza all autocommiserazione si presenta, fra un t e una fetta d arrosto La mamma era possessiva e non incoraggiava i suoi studi per fra le righe le faceva studiare francese e italiano, violino e pianoforte, inoltre pittura e letteratura erano l argomento della vita quotidiana La colpa pi grossa, non averle impedito di sposare Bunny, che era stato amante di entrambi i genitori, Vanessa e Duncan e presente alla nascita Anche con Bunny, grossi contrasti, poich aveva approfittato della sua giovane et e l aveva schiacciata col suo sentimentalismo La madre invece aveva difficolt a esprimere i suoi sentimenti, il padre biologico era infantile, quello nominale sarebbe stato valido ma artisticamente non all altezza La zia Virginia era bisognosa d affetto, brillante da oscurare il faro del libro omonimo, vicina, trasandata, regale, generosa, un po pazza ma senza disturbare, non lei almeno Lo zio Leonard era ebreo ma puritano, severo, di onest cristallina.
Si potrebbe intitolare anche Poteva andare peggio o Autobiografia di un ingrata smidollata Sono di parte, lo so.
F rfattaren var dotter till m larna Vanessa Bell och Duncan Grant, s mycket intressant om Bloomsburygruppen Hade jag l st den innan jag s g tv serien Life in Squares hade jag nog uppskattat serien mer jagn rmarmigvirginiawoolf Dentro il Bloomsbury Group, a contatto con Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf e tutti gli affascinanti personaggi intorno a loro un sogno per me.
Angelica Garnett, figlia di Vanessa, quel sogno l ha vissuto, e qui lo rivive e ce lo fa vivere.
A vivid picture of the Bloomsbury group from the point of view of someone raised in it from childhood though Angelica was a casualty of her parents dedication to art and to themselves before all else She brings everyone to life Of Lytton Strachey I remember little he was for me hardly than a pair of dark brown eyes magnified by glasses, kindly, but so intensely reflective that communication was almost out of the question Virginia poured out tea, not as Vanessa did, with a careful, steady hand, but waving the teapot to and fro as she talked, to emphasize her meaning And this from the beginning In the passage at Charleston I had hung some photographs of my grandmother, Julia Jackson, taken by my great great aunt, Julia Margaret Cameron As I looked at them I became conscious of an inheritance not only of genes but also of feelings and habits of mind which, like motes of dust spiralling downwards, settle on the most recent generation.
Quite disappointing Left me with a clear dislike for the Bloomsbury lot, although I love a lot of their paintings I live very neer Charlston and it is a beautiful place, where if you grew up there and or where able to do what you liked best in the company of those you loved you were a very lucky person From this book although I came to greatly sympathise with Angelica once she found herself in the clutches of her clearly horrible husband I came away with the feeling that at a time when most of the UK population and indeed in the world, they lived a very priviliged and life, so all the snobberies and looking down on servants, is for me, hard to take.
Written after years of psychotherapy, and after discovering that her husband had once been her father s lover, this is an interesting book, though I do not highly reccommend it I think my own interest in the book stems from the fact that I have read so much about her family and their coterie for avid Bloomsburyist only.
Having read Mr Garnett s Lady into Fox, and Woolf s Orlando in which Angelica appears as the photo of the Russian Princess Sasha who is described as a fox , you can t help noticing that something utterly bizarre happened at Angelica s birth it goes something like this Bunny Garnett was the homosexual lover of Duncan Grant Duncan Grant had a sexual liaison with Vanessa Bell, who was married to his friend Clive Bell When the child was born, apparently, Bunny declared he would marry her when she was an adult When Angelica was 7, Bunny wrote a book about a wife changing into a fox, having an illegitimate child with another fox, and calling it Angelica the husband then loves the baby fox instead.
If that isn t weird enough, Virginia Woolf, when she modeled Sasha on the child Angelica in 1928 when Angelica was 10, calls Sasha a Russian fox in the text of Orlando She must have read Garnett s book and understood the reference.
Then Bunny rabbit hunted by foxes did go and marry Angelica when she emerged from her teens If this happened in recent terms, then phrases like taken into care and 10 to 15 years would come to mind They were a crazy lot those Bloomsbury types.