The Spoken Word: The Bloomsbury Group (British Library - British Library Sound Archive)

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9780712305938: The Spoken Word: The Bloomsbury Group (British Library - British Library Sound Archive)

 

The Bloomsbury Group remains, to this day, one of modern culture’s most remarkable associations of individuals—the diverse contributions of the Bell siblings alone, not to mention their lovers, peers, and acquaintances, rival the output of the rest of the Modernist canon in terms of experimentation, collaboration, and peerless acclaim in literature, art, and theory. This informal group of poets and painters, writers and critics, which included Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Clive and Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Vita Sackville-West, and Bertrand Russell, among others, may have called then-fashionable central London their home, but to generations of future scholars, writers, and cultural aficionados, they helped to locate Modernism both critically and geographically. Now, for the first time, the British Library has gathered their voices and reminiscences together on a masterly two-disc set, which draws on long-unheard BBC archives, many of which will be available for the first time. Among the unforgettable tracks heard in this collection are:

Virginia Woolf reading an extract from a radio talk on the importance of language

Leonard Woolf proffering a Who’s Who of the Bloomsbury Group

Desmond McCarthy meditating on “tears” in literature

Duncan Grant discussing the infamous Dreadnought Hoax

Clive Bell remembering Lytton Strachey asking, “Who would you most like to see coming up the drive?”

Frances Partridge speaking about the Group’s larger influence

William Plomer discussing the Group’s exclusivity

David Garnett candidly describing the relationship between Lytton Strachey and Dora Carrington

David Cecil detailing Virginia Woolf’s day-to-day appearance

Angelica Garnett opining on various attitudes towards members of the Group

Harold Nicholson reciting a talk on the members and attitudes that dominated the Group

Vita Sackville-West talking about the inspiration behind Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

Quentin Bell exactingly describing the fashions of Virginia Woolf

Margery Fry holding court on Virginia Woolf’s flights of fancy

Benedict Nicholson remembering Virginia Woolf’s visits to Sissinghurst

Elizabeth Bowen recalling Bloomsbury parties and Virginia Woolf’s antics

Ralph Partridge reminiscing on time spent with Leonard and Virginia Woolf

John Lehmann describing his reactions to Woolf’s final novel, Between the Acts

Bertrand Russell on Lytton Strachey and his family

Gerald Brenan recalling times spent with Lytton Strachey, Ralph Partridge, and Dora Carrington

Grace Higgins describing daily life at Charleston, the Bloomsbury outpost in Sussex

 Running time:CD1 - 60 mins, CD2 - 68 mins

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Review:

"It was an unexpected and nostalgic pleasure to listen to old recordings of or about the Bloomsbury Group. These have been enterprisingly collected on two CDs and drawn mostly from the BBC Sound Archive or the Charleston Trust. Knowing about Bloomsbury as I do, my grandfather being Desmond MacCarthy, and my parents being friends of Virginia Woolf among others, I had expected to hear high and precious didactic voices. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to hear so many unaffected and vocally mellow speakers, cultivated but not artificially so. . . . An excellently edited compilation."--Jonathan Cecil, Spectator

(Spectator (UK))

"This isn't about the Bloomsbury group, it is the Bloomsbury group, alive and kicking, thanks to the miracle of the audio archive. They're all here – Leonard and Virginia, Clive and Vanessa, EM Forster, Duncan Grant and co – sounding (especially the women) as if they're speaking through mouthfuls of plums as they talk about student life at Cambridge, those Thursday evening At Homes at 46 Gordon Square and, of course, each other." (Guardian)

"The highlight of this set is the sole surviving recording of Virginia Woolf, an extract from a talk she gave about language and its importance."--Bloomsbury Review (Lori D. Kranz)

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