THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BERTRAND RUSSELL by Bertrand Russell

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BERTRAND RUSSELL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mr. Russell's autobiography, of which this is the first section, is to be presented as a ""classic."" An imposing word, but not immutable. In a sense, Mr. Russell, rather than the book which is both less opinionated and less revelatory than one might anticipate, is the classic. Now in his nineties, he can look back on (and remember explicitly) a long lifetime in which he has been a dominant figure--as mathematician, philosopher, and a political activist representing a particular position. Unhesitatingly he declares himself as ""governed"" by three passions--""the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind."" The first two are sporadically apparent here; the third will probably be more evident in later volumes. The Russell boys were reared by a strict Scotch Presbyterian grandmother, a spinster aunt, and staff. His childhood and adolescence were relatively lonely but his intellectual bent toward mathematics was established at an early age. On to Cambridge, and his marriage in 1894 to Alys Pearsall Smith; she sponsored ""free love"" although she had no experience of any kind of love--nor had he. The marriage dissolved some years later when she no longer interested him sexually; the book here closes with his affair with Lady Ottoline Morrell ""whose excessive use of scent and powder"" first offended his ""Puritan prejudices"" and then overcame them.... Personal letters and occasional diary entries interlace each section but do not contribute any greater sense of intimacy. Russell's memoir is still eminently Victorian in its formalism, and the man seems to be just as much a product of the age he attempted to subvert..... Very strong publisher endorsement plus the Literary Guild.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1967
ISBN: 041522862X
Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.