A War of Individuals: Bloomsbury Attitudes to the Great War by Jonathan Atkin

By Jonathan Atkin

This ebook attracts jointly for the first actual time examples of the ''aesthetic pacifism'' practiced in the course of the nice conflict by way of such celebrated participants as Virginia Woolf, Siegfried Sassoon, and Bertrand Russell. moreover, the publication outlines the tales of these much less recognized who shared the frame of mind of the Bloomsbury crew and people round them whilst it got here to dealing with the 1st ''total war.''

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During the previous month he had attended Bertand Russell’s trial at Bow Street magistrates’ Court (see Chapter 3), the proceedings of which he described to Lady Ottoline as, ‘unjust, gross and generally wicked and disgusting … It makes one abandon hope that such monstrosities should occur, openly, and be accepted by very nearly everybody as a matter of course’. 55 Eminent Victorians was finally published in May 1918 and from then on Stachey’s literary star was in the ascendant. However, at times when there were few distractions, the war still impinged upon his thoughts.

When she finally returned to London, she found only a ‘state of general gloom’ which seemed to have taken the place of the social life she had formerly known; she deplored the fact that, ‘no-one can now lead their normal lives’. 94 She had never been knowingly ignorant but had constructed an artificial shell of unthinking around herself for protection against the war’s malign pressure upon her creative life. There occurred a closing of ranks at Asheham House in January 1916 when Vanessa and the Woolfs were joined by Clive Bell, Grant, Garnett, Keynes and Lytton Strachey amid much debate, with Vanessa reporting to Fry that, ‘Duncan and Bunny [Garnett] and Lytton are all agreed that they would sooner go to prison than be forced to become soldiers’, while she feared that the war’s effect upon the normal course of existence would render life in England after the war’s end ‘impossible’.

90 In mid-August 1914, Fry read to Vanessa the Foreign Office White Paper concerning Britain’s involvement in the European war, and admitted to her husband Clive that she found it complicated and would have to read it again to herself to fully understand its implications, though she reported that, ‘It has led to a great deal of argument here’. 91 Vanessa Bell’s initial response to the war was to travel to her sister Virginia at Asheham House where she and Grant painted furiously. 92 She deplored the fact that the only option open to people was to fight and if a person attempted to do something else, they were immediately accused of ‘making a muddle’.

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