BLOOMSBURY PIE by Regina Marler

BLOOMSBURY PIE

The Making of the Bloomsbury Boom
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 This lively volume recounts the outpouring of masses of paper devoted to what one chronicler later described as, alternatively, ``a point of view, a period, a gang of conspirators, or an infectious disease.'' Whatever Bloomsbury was, whether Clive Bell's ``shrine of civilization'' or D.H. Lawrence's nest of ``black beetles,'' it is now an industry--literary, scholarly, artistic, and cultural. Marler, the editor of the Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell (1993), is part of this industry, but she views its history of sensational biographic revelations, disputed literary estates, and academic squabbles with equanimity and wit. Michael Holroyd's groundbreakingly frank biography of Lytton Strachey (196768) usually gets much of the credit for the Bloomsbury revival after F.R. Leavis's scorn in Scrutiny and the art world's dismissal. Marler gives an entertaining account of Holroyd's determined efforts to penetrate the circle of surviving Bloomsberries after receiving only a ú50 advance from his reluctant publisher. She also examines more deliberate strategies of keeping Bloomsbury on the cultural map. Leonard Woolf continued publishing his wife's writings after her death, always fighting to keep her work available. The shrewd London art dealer Anthony d'Offay stepped in during the declining years of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell and, with assistance from several of Grant's protÇgÇs, profited handsomely while marketing his work. Quentin Bell, Virginia Woolf's nephew and first biographer, became the tactful keeper of the Bloomsbury flame, even as American feminists started to present a radical version of his aunt in the 1970s. Marler is particularly sharp on transatlantic differences in the Bloomsbury boom, illuminating the British domestication of the unconventional coterie vs. its American academization in the MLA and assorted archives. A tart but flavorsome recipe for the preserves of Bloomsberries in what Marler accurately describes as ``a tenacious and unwieldy cultural phenomenon.''

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8050-4416-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1997