OTTOLINE AT GARSINGTON: Memoirs of Lady Ottoline Morell, 1915-1918 by Robert--Ed. Gathorne-Hardy

OTTOLINE AT GARSINGTON: Memoirs of Lady Ottoline Morell, 1915-1918

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This, twelve years later, is the Second volume of memoirs and letters (to and from Lady Ottoline) edited by her literary trustee who also contributes a rather defensive introduction. She has of course emanated in and out of all the recent Bloomsbury annals--this beady-eyed, beaky. nosed woman under the heavy maquillage which occasioned Russell, in his autobiography, to complain of her ""excessive use of scent and powder"" before it overcame him, Now that he has made the relationship common knowledge, Gathorne-Hardy discreetly, appends her version of l'affaire Bertie in the appendix here. Garsington, Ottoline's country home, became a hothouse sanctuary during WW I--a ""theatre"" as she contended with ali kinds of star ""players"" gracing the premises: Strachey, ""adorable companion""; Lawrence, so ""wonderfully lovable""; Aldous, also ""lovable""; less lovable by far was of course the ""tigress"" Frieda who accused Ottoline of having a ""soulmush-"" She wasn't far wrong; much of what Lady Ottoline writes is soulmush--""how inaccessible we all are! So apart, so alone. I saw suddenly that the central flame of one's personality has to be alone, but the outer petals of this flame can touch others and radiate out into life and art."" And there were so many for her to touch, not only the above but T. S. Eliot, ""dull, dull, dull,"" and Katherine Mansfield and Murry and Virginia Woolf and Lady Brett and Sassoon and Graves and assorted pacifists like Ramsay MacDonald. Surprisingly, in between her ""soul's. . . burning and purging and ascending"" there is a dreadful amount of belowstairs pettiness. Lady Ottoline was very critical as well as patronizing; it is difficult to take her aggrieved injuries over D.H.'s Women in Love and Aldous' Creme Yellow to heart even if she had been used as well as imposed on. She was a vain, ridiculous demanding woman and one leaves Garsington willingly, grateful only for the additional marginalia on all these pampered, competitive, consuming talents.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Knopf