04 July 2006

Eminent Victorians

This is a book which marked a decisive step into the modern world of the twentieth century, and a clean break with the Victorian and Edwardian attitudes which preceded it. Lytton Strachey was hardly known when he published the book in 1918: afterwards, he was almost as notorious as Oscar Wilde. It's a group of critical biographical studies - of Cardinal Manning (1802-1892), Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), Dr Arnold of Rugby School (1795-1842), and General Gordon (1833-1885) in which Strachey overturns all the pious hagiographic work of his forebears and portrays these icons of Victorian life as ordinary human beings locked in the social and political battles of their age. His sketches are witty, pungent, and very elegantly expressed put-downs which punctured the blind optimism of the age which had led up to the disasters of the first world war ... Read more >>


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