Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Letters of Lytton Strachey
The Letters of Lytton Strachey 

"Human beings are too important to be treated as mere symptoms of the past. They have a value which is independent of any temporal process──which is eternal, and must be felt for its own sake."  --  Lytton Strachey,  Eminent Victorians

Lytton Strachey is best remembered as a biographer from his famous Eminent Victorians to his lives of Victoria and Elizabeth I. His letters, however, depict better the breadth of the man's life whether it be philosophical interchanges with G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, friendly confidences shared with fellow members of the Bloomsbury set, or love letters launched to various partners including Carrington and Duncan Grant. The book is a delight to open at random and read mementos from his life at most any point because he was always corresponding with such thoughtful and interesting people. The editor, Paul Levy, includes helpful notations about the details of events and people when necessary for context making the collection even more enjoyable. It is Strachey's passion for literature and life that impresses me the most as when he wrote to G. E. Moore in October, 1903 upon reading Principia Ethica, which had been published the previous week, saying: "Your grand conclusion made me gasp -- it was so violently definite."(p 17) For those readers interested in literary activity in England and the Bloomsbury circle this is a useful volume.

The Letters of Lytton Strachey by Lytton Strachey. Paul Levy, ed. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York. 2005

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