Letters of Lytton Strachey

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9780141014739: Letters of Lytton Strachey

Lytton Strachey is one of the key figures in the cultural life of the twentieth century and his letters are a literary treasure-trove of the man and his world, as well as a record of the startling and poignant love-affair between himself and the painter Dora Carrington.

The breadth of his correspondence is breathtaking, going from precocious childhood letters to those written when he was a member of the secret Cambridge Apostles, and from letters to Leonard and Virginia Woolf, to Maynard Keynes and other members of the Bloomsbury Group, to love letters to Dora Carrington and Duncan Grant. The thousands of letters he wrote retain their vitality to this day, discussing changes in morals, the writing of history, literature and philosophy, politics, war and peace, and the advent of modernism.

Strachey believed that one only really comes to know a writer by reading his correspondence, and if these playful, provocative, and eminently sensible letters attest to anything, it is to the soundness of this belief.

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About the Author:

Lytton Strachey (1880-1932) was a member of the Bloomsbury Group and the author of several classic biographies, including Queen Victoria and Elizabeth and Essex. His Eminent Victorians, published in 1918, inaugurated a new style of biography distinguished by irony, wit, and irreverence.

From Publishers Weekly:

A complete edition of Lytton Strachey's letters would total six volumes, testament to the ferocious epistolary energy of the author of the classic Eminent Victorians, which ridiculed the hapless inhabitants of that era as priggish, canting hypocrites and revolutionized the biographical form. Levy, a Strachey trustee and editor of Lytton Strachey: The Really Interesting Question, has selected the best of them, no easy task given that letter writing was Strachey's natural mode of communication. As a pivotal member of the Bloomsbury group—whose luminaries included Virginia Woolf and John Maynard Keynes—Strachey's interests delved deep and spanned wide, encompassing theater, painting, history, literature, music, modernism, waspish gossip—and sex, including some forms still considered shocking even in our jaded day. For the conflicted Strachey (1880–1932)—a radical member of the upper-class, a hypochondriac who died at 51 of an undiagnosed cancer, a sentimental cynic, a masochist who hurt others by telling them painful truths, a homosexual who had affairs with women—the serious was trivial, the trivial, serious; and he never could decide whether, as he remarked to his brother James, "I'm an utter fool, a genius, or an ordinary person." As Levy's careful, sensitive volume demonstrates, he was all three—and many more. (Dec.)
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