The World Broke in Two – Bill Goldstein

If you are even remotely interested in Modernist writers then this book is a gem. Goldstein has researched the lives of Virginia Woolf, T S Eliot, D H Lawrence and E M Forster in the year 1922 and he has done an absolutely excellent job of it.

There is not a single stone left unturned and we move through the year, month by month, learning about the authors’ work, personal lives and health. The crafting and structure of this is excellent, each chapter focusses on one author and each one moves us through the year, month by month.

The whole book is fascinating but there are some details about the authors which particularly made me smile. One of my favourites is that of T S Eliot wearing green face powder to make himself look ill and therefore live up to the idea of a suffering artist and his reputation. The face powder was something Virginia Woolf noticed at a dinner party and later commented on.

One result of Goldstein’s excellent research is the further reading I now want to do. I need to find a Virginia Woolf story called Byron and Mr Briggs, where apparently Mrs Dalloway is at a dinner party with other Virginia Woolf characters. I am going to finally read The Waste Land by T S Eliot and D H Lawrence’s Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious. Trust me, there are many more.

I am going to highly recommend this book but I’m also fully aware that many people are not remotely interested in these writers. Therefore, read it, it’s great, but only if you like Modernist writers and the 1920’s.

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