FRIENDS AND APOSTLES by Keith Hale

FRIENDS AND APOSTLES

The Correspondence of Rupert Brooke and James Strachey, 1905-1914
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KIRKUS REVIEW

An intimate correspondence whose references to friends and acquaintances reads like a sexually explicit Who’s Who of Cambridge and Bloomsbury before WWI. Hale (English/Univ. of Guam) has undertaken the publication of Rupert Brooke’s correspondence with his friend James Strachey in an effort to correct common misconceptions caused by the withholding of information about Brooke’s personal life—including and especially his homosexuality. In short, he aims to prove that “Brooke the man was not the same as Brooke the legend.” If, as some critics assert, Brooke represented a time and a generation of Englishmen before WWI, his wide-ranging letters provide a full cast of players and the topics that occupied them. Strachey, translator of Freud’s work into English and younger brother of Lytton Strachey, knew Brooke from boyhood and later fell in love with the handsome, golden boy when the two met up at Cambridge. Both members of the exclusive Cambridge group, the Apostles, Brooke and Strachey wrote of their most intimate feelings, as well as their impressions of mutual friends. It was an illustrious group, with members such as Maynard Keynes, Duncan Grant, George Mallory, matched only in their position in British society and culture by the other subjects of these honest, cruel, and frequently funny exchanges: Bloomsbury friends Virginia and Leonard Woolf and Vanessa Bell, author Henry James, and Fabian socialist Beatrice Webb. Hale deftly guides us through the correspondence from 1905 to Brooke’s death on his way to Gallipoli. What begins as a youthful exchange between the seriously in-love Strachey and the teasing and distant Brooke gradually shifts its focus to Brooke the man and writer, as he continues to tease and torment his old friend with all manner of news about explicit sexual relations with both men and women and about his increasingly dismal view of life (and women). A lively introduction to Brooke the man and artist (Strachey, too) and the Edwardian culture from which they emerged. (24 illustrations)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-300-07004-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1998




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