Monday, June 22, 2009

Some Quotes of the Bloomsbury Group

"At its simplest, the Bloomsbury Group was the circle round Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. When the Victorian man of letters Sir Leslie Stephen died in 1904, his daughters, Virginia and Vanessa, being determined to put their constrained middle-class girlhoods behind them, set up house at 46 Gordon Square in the then-shabby district of Bloomsbury with their two brothers, Thoby and Adrian. Thoby brought home his Cambridge friends Leonard Woolf, Clive Bell, Lytton Strachey and Saxon Sydney-Turner, inviting them for social evenings with his sisters, the scene being set of earnest youths sitting around the room sipping cocoa and whisky and discussing intently such matters as the ‘meaning of truth’. Most of these young men had been elected to the Apostles, a secret society of intellectually notable undergraduates from Trinity and King’s Colleges. Through the link with the Apostles the Group widened to include E.M. Forster, Roger Fry, Desmond MacCarthy and John Maynard Keynes who had left Cambridge earlier. The Group also included Duncan Grant, Lytton Strachey’s cousin.

Apart from Saxon Sydney-Turner, who remained an obscure Treasury official, all of the Bloomsbury Group made a very significant contribution to British intellectual and artistic life in the first part of the twentieth century. The two giants, famed internationally, are Virginia Woolf, who broke new ground with her ‘stream of consciousness’ writing; and the economist, Maynard Keynes, whose revolutionary economic theories and significant efforts to build new economic orders after the traumas of two world wars remain an abiding legacy."- Tony Bradshaw, Introduction, "A Bloomsbury Canvas"

Do I have to say this? I do not necessarily endorse or condemn any of these quotes or the activities of these people. But, familiarity with the works and ideas of these undeniably brilliant men and women is essential to understanding the early twentieth century; their influence persists.

"A rose is the visible result of an infinitude of complicated goings on in the bosom of the earth and in the air above, and similarly a work of art is the product of strange activities in the human mind."- Clive Bell (art critic, husband in a very open marriage of Vanessa Stephen Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf)

"As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world."-Virginia (Stephen) Woolf (writer, a suicide)

"I read the book of Job last night, I don't think God comes out well in it." -Virginia Woolf

"The older one grows, the more one likes indecency." -Virginia Woolf

"Capitalism did not arise because capitalists stole the land or the workmen's tools but because it was more efficient than feudalism. It will perish because it is not merely less efficient than socialism, but actually self-destructive." J.B.S. Haldane (biochemist, geneticist)

"Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."- John Maynard Keynes (economist)

"Education is the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent."- John Maynard Keynes

"I work for a Government I despise for ends I think criminal."- John Maynard Keynes

"But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."- John Maynard Keynes

“The whole of art is an appeal to a reality which is not without us but in our minds”-Desmond MacCarthy (journalist, editor)

''Relations we may be: have them, we may not''- Duncan Grant, artist, to his older cousin Lytton Strachey in the midst of an ultimately unsuccessful effort to rebuff multiple attempts at seduction, later, Grant became a lover of John Maynard Keynes

"Discretion is not the better part of biography." - Lytton Strachey, historian, (and friend of Thoby Stephen, "the Goth", brother of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell; Thoby died at 26 of typhoid) Strachey loved Ralph Partridge who married Dora Carrington; Dora loved Lytton Strachey and performed a suicide after Strachey died

"Happiness is the perpetual possession of being well-deceived."- Lytton Strachey

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