TAKEN CARE OF by Edith Sitwell


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Like everything about her, Dame Edith's posthumous autobiography goes against the grain: it's chatty and pompous, brilliant and addlepated, the prose blending a kind of 18th century austerity with modernist nose-thumbing. She's the Sibyl, High Priestess of the Arts; then in a twinkling she's Eloise, the naughty girl, sliding down the banisters of memory to announce, among other things, that her parents, Sir George and Lady Ida, were Impossible, self-centered dragons, and that her childhood was Hell. But she's also very discreet; not a word of any romance, not one ""personal"" entanglement, nor even a mention of her late-in-life conversion to Roman Catholicism. In many ways, for a ""woman,"" Dame Edith might just as well have been a cabbage. She opens her randomlystrung account typically: ""A lady asked me why, on most occasions, I wore black. 'Are you in mourning?' 'Yes'.' 'For whom are you in mourning?' 'For the world.'"" Her friends (and they range from the Huxleys and Dylan Thomas to Marilyn Monroe) are treated fondly; her enemies (and these include Wyndham Lewis, Lawrence and Leavis) are given a proper what-for. Born in 1887, she offers glimpses of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, of post-War London high life, of her brothers Osbert and Sacheverell, of the trio's celebrated metrical experiments, of Facade, et al. A virtuoso of eccentricity, a near-genius, a philosophical Joke, she will attract a very difinite readership.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1965
Publisher: Atheneum