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Lytton Strachey: The New Biography

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"It is impossible to suppose that this ‘Life' will ever be superseded .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mystery of the human person."—George Steiner, The New Yorker "It is impossible to suppose that this ‘Life' will ever be superseded .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


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"It is impossible to suppose that this ‘Life' will ever be superseded .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mystery of the human person."—George Steiner, The New Yorker "It is impossible to suppose that this ‘Life' will ever be superseded .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

30 review for Lytton Strachey: The New Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    I just got this. Years ago I read the original which was published in 1971. It was hugely controversial because it revealed what a polymorphously perverse bunch the Bloomsburies were. I was completely smitten by Carrington who was surely a flower child thirty years too early. Anyhow, time passed and it became more acceptable to reveal details of people's sexuality, and what with Lytton being gay and all, Holroyd dug up so much extra info that he got to the point where he knew he should rewrite h I just got this. Years ago I read the original which was published in 1971. It was hugely controversial because it revealed what a polymorphously perverse bunch the Bloomsburies were. I was completely smitten by Carrington who was surely a flower child thirty years too early. Anyhow, time passed and it became more acceptable to reveal details of people's sexuality, and what with Lytton being gay and all, Holroyd dug up so much extra info that he got to the point where he knew he should rewrite his monster bio. So he did. I look forward to reacquainting myself with Lytton who is a completely endearing character.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Rostan

    One of the greatest biographies ever written. And one which only gets better and richer upon rereading. Strachey should be more of an icon than he is. He was one of the greatest prose stylists who ever lived...and more 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 biographies...a need for friendship. He docum One of the greatest biographies ever written. And one which only gets better and richer upon rereading. Strachey should be more of an icon than he is. He was one of the greatest prose stylists who ever lived...and more 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 biographies...a 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 moreover, 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Brown Ash

    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, a 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth McIntosh

    I’ve been reading this for the entire autumn and it became a companion. A truly good biography! Wittily written, reassuringly human. Well researched but not at all stuffy. Made 1000 pages of illness and dejection feel enjoyable.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mary L.

    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 more elaborate potrait of Mr. Strachey and the Bloomsbury group. You will enjoy every nuance and be sorry when you come to the last page. 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 more elaborate potrait of Mr. Strachey and the Bloomsbury group. You will enjoy every nuance and be sorry when you come to the last page.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Avril

    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 more 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 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 more 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Pierce

    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 more 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 B 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 more 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John D. Bennett

    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. 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Duncan M Simpson

    This must be one of the best biographies I have read. The book appeals because of the subject and my interest in Bloomsbury but Holroyd has written a book that reads as easily as a novel. A masterpiece.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joy H.

    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: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112637/ "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 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: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112637/ "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." http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Car... "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: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/p... The 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: http://www.reelviews.net/php_review_t... The choreography and scenery were beautiful.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karen-Leigh

    Mr. Holroyd's biography was clearly a revelation whose moment had come. The Swinging 60's saw in Bloomsbury's adamant rejection of convention and in its polymorphous carryings-on a model for its own liberation. Mr. Holroyd's book, along with Quentin Bell's biography of Virginia Woolf, was responsible for igniting the mania for Bloomsbury that has fueled an apparently inexhaustible stream of memoirs, published letters and diaries, plays and academic treatises excavating the private lives of Vita Mr. Holroyd's biography was clearly a revelation whose moment had come. The Swinging 60's saw in Bloomsbury's adamant rejection of convention and in its polymorphous carryings-on a model for its own liberation. Mr. Holroyd's book, along with Quentin Bell's biography of Virginia Woolf, was responsible for igniting the mania for Bloomsbury that has fueled an apparently inexhaustible stream of memoirs, published letters and diaries, plays and academic treatises excavating the private lives of Vita and Virginia, Leonard, Vanessa, Clive, Duncan, Maynard, Carrington, Roger and a host of minor satellites, children and grandchildren. Michael Holroyd has, in his new version of "Lytton Strachey," interlarded a great deal of this new material, along with disclosures that he says he was prevented from making in the earlier because many of Lytton's friends and lovers were still alive. In some cases, he had the disturbing experience of finding that he had misread events or relationships. Long books like this can be hard to read, one keeps putting them down and doing something else and procrastination over a book one is actually engrossed in and enjoying is odd but that is the case with this book. I am pleased to have had the chance to reread it and part of why I took my time and didn't skim and underlined and researched bits was...at my age....I am unlikely to read it again so had to savor it this time.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    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. 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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book by Holroyd (2 volumes) is more information about Strachey than any one person could ever use, but it's well-written and appealing. It was the basis for the film Carrington, I think. Modernists, modernists, modernists! It's like E Entertainment Television in book form, for modernist lovers. This book by Holroyd (2 volumes) is more information about Strachey than any one person could ever use, but it's well-written and appealing. It was the basis for the film Carrington, I think. Modernists, modernists, modernists! It's like E Entertainment Television in book form, for modernist lovers.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    If you want to live where lives are lived read this book. It comes with the highest credentials and is utterly captivating, enthralling. I do congratulate the author, if that is not an impertinence. I am reviewing from the old 1972 Penguin revised edition.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Read it following Saturday Review feature when the book first came out. My intro to Strachey and Bloomsbury.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ron Van Der Reeder

    there is nothing new under the sun that has not occured before,it started my fascination with all things Victorian (Bloomsbury,the Pre-raphealites,Oscar Wilde,Thackeray,Dickens,William Morris,London)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julie James

    Ok, I only read around 350 pages (it's probably 600 pages) and then it was due at the library. I'll come back to it one of these days. Ok, I only read around 350 pages (it's probably 600 pages) and then it was due at the library. I'll come back to it one of these days.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    A wonderful book, full of moving and insightful moments in the life of the guy who pretty much invented the idea of biography as art. Tons of names to keep track of, but it's a joyous burden. A wonderful book, full of moving and insightful moments in the life of the guy who pretty much invented the idea of biography as art. Tons of names to keep track of, but it's a joyous burden.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    We find out a lot about all the artists that were considered part of the Bloomsbury group, in England during the 1910s and 1920s.

  20. 5 out of 5

    John

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lehtomaki

    Nonfiction

  22. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cia

  24. 4 out of 5

    NickDSP

  25. 5 out of 5

    Berna Labourdette

  26. 5 out of 5

    Luis

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

  28. 5 out of 5

    L. WORTHY

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lea_sydney

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alex

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