LYDIA AND MAYNARD: The Letters of Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes by Polly & Richard Keynes--Eds. Hill

LYDIA AND MAYNARD: The Letters of Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes

Email this review


Disappointing compilation of the courtship letters of one of Britain's greatest economists and the Russian ballerina he eventually married. Readers familiar with the Keynes-Lopokova story--he was the former lover of the painter Duncan Grant and several other men; she was a temperamental, slightly addled protÉgÉe of Sergei Diaghilev--will find little here to either inform or amuse. Part of the trouble lies in Lopokova's faltering English, part in Keynes' seemingly innate reticence. When Lydia writes, ""Bonnie and [Stephen] Tomlin have been special callers about tonight's party, so I could not refuse, it is going to be in the studio of Tomlin, but nor you or Vanessa or Duncan will be there. How strange I think of it now. It is palpitating about your going to Germany, you could help them more on the spot while action develops,"" readers can only scratch their heads in bewilderment. Maynard's epistles, on the other hand, while written clearly, are not notable for psychological insight or romantic fervor. Lopokova was not especially popular with the Bloomsbury group, who found her silly and self-dramatizing. The general opinion was that Keynes was marrying beneath him. Readers of these letters may also wonder what he saw in her. The editors (Maynard's niece and nephew) write of Lydia's vivacity and wit, but there is all too little of those qualities to be found in the inconsequentialities recorded here. Neither of the correspondents seems to be interested in exchanging confidences about the cast of characters--Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Vanessa and Clive Bell, Duncan Grant, Lytton Strachey, Roger Fry--that surrounded them, nor about the events going on around them. Lydia does offer a few interesting comments about Diaghilev, though, and Maynard occasionally describes some of the leading political figures of the day. Still, all in all, thin gruel rather than the feast one expects.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1990
Publisher: Scribners