THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BERTRAND RUSSELL: 1914-1944 by Bertrand Russell

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BERTRAND RUSSELL: 1914-1944

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is the second panel in the memoir launched last year although the general audience anticipated proved rather listless. Along with the much publicized pieces in the press about the doge in his dotage, there were a few more critical reviews. Primarily however they were reverential even though it is hard not to think that they were prompted by the life of the man rather than the overfamiliar story of the life. Volume II is fuller, covering a much longer timespan; the technique is again the literarily suspect one of lacing insets of letters from friends and notables with the rather precisely remembered record. By the close (the more scandalous years in the U.S.) there are more and more letters, less text. The issues with which his name is by now synonymous figure strongly, from World War I when he was a militant pacifist, to his views on sex (""traditional morality is superstitious""), education, (an interest spurred by his three children), free love and marriage. On the latter he no longer knows what to think; on the former the reader is sometimes bemused. Always Russell is didactic and his ""high seriousness"" may be too much for the outsider as it was for the capricious Colette (she followed Lady Ottoline): ""We did not go to bed the first time we were lovers as there was too much to say,"" Russell's stances motivate this as they did his life, whether idealistic (he gave away a family legacy--not justified), philosophic, or prophetic. One letter forecasts China's supremacy and the end of the western world he has so dominated as an intellectual activist. As it stands, the Autobiography supplements earlier public appearances and published opinions.

Pub Date: June 17th, 1968
Publisher: Little, Brown--A.M.P.