JOURNEY TO THE FRONTIER: Two Roads to the Spanish Civil War by
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JOURNEY TO THE FRONTIER: Two Roads to the Spanish Civil War

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Almost thirty years ago Arthur Lovejoy wrote that ""trustworthy historical synthesis is not a one-man job."" He believed that the historiography of ideas required collaboration and criticism from specialists of thorough competence in special provinces. He would, no doubt, be pleased with this superb book by two highly competent authors. Peter Stansky is a professor of English history; William Abrahams, a novelist and poet. Together, they have written a brilliant study of Julian Bell and John Cornford, two English poets who were killed in the Spanish Civil War, two young men who have a place in English history and literature. ""Julian Bell, the son of Clive and Vanessa Bell, and the nephew of Virginia Woolf, attempted to adapt the Bloomsbury way of life to the complexities of the 1930s. John Cornford, the son of F.M. and Frances Cornford, and the great-grandson of Charles Darwin, rejected the traditions of his forebears in his poetry and his politics, became a Communist at sixteen, and thereafter, for the five remaining years of his life, played a crucial role in the ideological struggles of his decade."" The story of their lives is developed through a fine study of intellectual and political life in the years preceding the Spanish Civil War, a scrupulously documented study drawn from previously unpublished material. The author's vision of history and understanding of poetry are acute; their ability to probe the personalities of their difficult subjects outstanding. A beautifully written book, Journey to the Frontier is likely to prove the definitive biography of Julian Bell and John Cornford. Its interest is extended by its effectiveness as the biography of an era.

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1966
Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.