THE LETTERS OF RUPERT BROOKE by Geoffrey--Ed. Keynes

THE LETTERS OF RUPERT BROOKE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This enormous body of letters (700 pages), on which Christopher Hassall based his biography (1964), extends from 1901 to 1915 when Brooke died at twenty-seven. Geoffrey Keynes, who has contributed chronological biographical prefaces, was his friend during most of this period. Inasmuch as any correspondence such as this entails so much that must be trivial since it is by nature temporal and spontaneous, still older words apply, namely that ""letters be for students, richesse for the carefull, paradise for the devoute."" Certainly true of the earlier sections written from Rugby and Cambridge. Along with the prosaic and dutiful letters addressed to ""Dear Mother,"" there are others more exalted and attitudinizing: (""The night is purple with a weariness that is older than the stars; and there is a sound of ineventual tears""). Ah youth, which he never survived. From casual concerns, what he was reading, writing, thinking, the letters become more interesting after he fell in love with Katherine Cox (Ka) who replaced Noel Olivier in his affections, later was succeeded by the actress Cathleen Nesbitt. In between the splendids and superbs, there are depressive periods, particularly following the impasse reached with Ka. . . . The letters are addressed to all kinds of people, from his early mentor St. John Lucas to Gwen and Jacques Raverat, Gosse, Edward Marsh, the editor, these recurrently among many people. At the close his address reads Hood Battalion and Naval Brigade, knowing that he will be Gallipoli bound and ""filled with confident and glorious hopes."" He died of an abscess on the lip. . . . As Mr. Keynes states in his introduction, Brooke was not a great poet nor a ""great"" letter writer, but one becomes cumulatively, more insistently involved.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1968
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World