And one which only gets better and richer upon rereading.
Strachey should be of an icon than he is He was one of the greatest prose stylists who ever livedand importantly for the world at large, a proud gay man and conscientious objector when the former was a crime and the latter might as well have been.
The quality that Holroyd brings out most in this book is one which I find all too rarely in biographiesa need for friendship He documents the shifting nature of Strachey s lifelong friendships, most notably his bond with his onetime fiancee Virginia Woolf, the establishment of new ones, the breaking of old ones, and most of all, his efforts as ceaseless as his writing to keep a stable network of people he truly cared for around him.
It was the antidote in some ways to his string of unhappy love affairs, but over, it spoke to a need for something human he could count on while surrounded by the uncertainties of the world As a picture of a man dealing with insecurities in a realistic way, it may never be equalled.
Holroyd s research is impeccable, his own writing flawless and perfectly constructed, his use of quotation judicious, and his tone veering from witty to heartbreaking at all the right moments.
This is an absolutely astonishing biography This volume is over 1000 pages long, and there is a second volume that deals with Strachey s writings, but the length didn t seem at all excessive and the interest was maintained right to the end.
The first version of this book was published in 1967, over fifty years ago, which makes it admirable that Holroyd decided, as he said, to treat Lytton s homosexuality and his relationships as matter of factly as if he d been heterosexual Given that male homosexuality was only decriminalised in that same year, 1967, I think that was a brave decision.
Goodness, the Bloomsberries lived strange emotional lives I am exhausted simply reading about Lytton s love life, especially when Carrington s is added to it.
This was an extremely well written, well organized, enjoyable biography It s very complete, and I can not imagine it ever being superseded It was certainly not written in the style of a Strachey biography The endnotes are entertaining and necessary to the text This edition includes Holroyd s commentary on the process of preparing the biography and working with the people who knew Lytton Strachey I envy him his access to these remarkable people, including Frances Partridge, James Strachey, and Duncan Grant But I do wish that he had commented even briefly on the film, Carrington, that purports to have been based on Holroyd s biography I recommend it for anyone with the patience to trawl through the intricacies of Bloomsbury and Lytton Strachey s eventful Byzantine life.
Most of you have probably seen the movie Carrington and I agree it was grand However, that should not keep you from reading this biograpy of Lytton Strachey by Michael Holroyd from which the screen play was written The book gives a much elaborate potrait of Mr Strachey and the Bloomsbury group You will enjoy every nuance and be sorry when you come to the last page.
This is a famous biography and of course worth reading but, unless you are a Bloomsbury obsessive, it is two or three times longer than it needs to be Long stretches of my Kindle version had an odd flaw in which the word the was replaced by die I mean hundreds of times.
Over a thousand pages about one of the Bloomsbury greats and I loved every single one of them Extremely moving at the end but I knew to expect it Holroyd is a giant in himself I would love to know how much work went into this as his research and presentation are just impeccable I could have done with lots photographs but that s just me I finished it very reluctantly as I knew I would miss the whole cast An absolutely masterclass in writing biography as well as the perfect treat for Bloomsbury fans.
Added 1 15 12.
I did not read this book but I watched the film via streaming from Netflix adapted from the book, Lytton Strachey The New Biography by Michael Holroyd.
The movie was Carrington 1995 and starred Emma Thompson Jonathan Pryce The story of the relationship between painter Dora Carrington and author Lytton Strachey in a World War One England of cottages and countryside Although platonic due to Strachey s homosexuality, the relationship was nevertheless a deep and complicated one Pryce won the Best Actor Award at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival for his work in this absorbingly nuanced character study written and directed by esteemed playwright Christopher Hampton Emma Thompson was at her loveliest in this film.
About the strange love relationships in the movie, critic Roger Ebert said Everyone in the Bloomsbury crowd Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Roger Fry, John Maynard Keynes, E M Forster, Clive and Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant were known for freedom, even recklessness, in their choices of romantic partners A diagram of their love affairs would look like an underground system where every train stopped at every station FROM review by James Berardinelli was excellent Excerpts The movie is historically accurate, but its focus is less on the events of the time than on the relationship between the principals Carrington is divided into six chapters, most of are named after the men who float in and out of the title character s life Of course, Strachey is there all the time, a constant supportive and loving presence In one segment, Dora loses her virginity to ardent suitor Mark Gertler Rufus Sewell In another, she marries Ralph Partridge Steven Waddington , primarily because Strachey is attracted to him This leads to a bizarre triangle where only one relationship is consummated Then there s an tryst with Partridge s best friend, Gerald Brenan Samuel West , and a later affair which results in an unwanted pregnancy FROM choreography and scenery were beautiful.
It Is Impossible To Suppose That This Life Will Ever Be Superseded The Best Literary Biography To Appear For Many Years John Rothenstein, New York Times Written With Vivacity And Scrupulousness Michael Holroyd Has A Great Novelist S Sense Of The Obstinate Mystery Of The Human Person George Steiner, The New Yorker My, I couldn t wait for this book to end It was like being stuck on a train with a bunch of amorous college students for weeks Love triangles weren t enough quadrangles and other angles multiplied A loved B B loved C C loved A Sometimes C loved A and B And on and on I totally lost touch with Strachey and his writing in the book.
Everyone else who reviewed the book seemed to love it Alas.