Bloomsbury, Modernism, and the Reinvention of Intimacy by Jesse Wolfe

By Jesse Wolfe

Bloomsbury, Modernism, and the Reinvention of Intimacy integrates the experiences of 3 'inner circle' individuals of the Bloomsbury staff and 3 'satellite' figures right into a wealthy narrative of early twentieth-century tradition. Wolfe indicates how a number of modernist writers felt torn. at the one hand, they doubted the 'naturalness' of Victorian principles approximately 'maleness' and 'femaleness,' yet nevertheless they understood the worth of monogamy and marriage and the price of those associations to what Freud referred to as the 'middle-class social order.' This ambivalence used to be a first-rate resource of the writers' aesthetic energy; Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence and others introduced the paradoxes of contemporary intimacy to lifestyles, wrestling with them at the web page. Combining literary feedback with forays into philosophy, psychoanalysis, sociology and the avant-garde paintings of Vienna, this quantity bargains a clean account of the reciprocal relatives among ancient modernity and inventive modernism.

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Such a process of incarnation was not foreign to his imagination. John Maynard Keynes wrote that Moore “had a nightmare once in which he could not distinguish propositions from tables. But even when he was awake he could not distinguish love and beauty and truth from the furniture. They took on the same . . ”33 What might be a “nightmare” for Moore – the confusion of concrete and conceptual material, a naturalistic fallacy hounding his sleep – was, for the half-facetious Keynes, a sign of Moore’s poetic gift.

It was a short step for Moore also to blend the Greek love of aesthetic beauty with the Greek love of male beauty; nonetheless Principia’s restraint – its accommodation of Victorian mores – leads its treatment of homoerotic themes to be so oblique as to lose its human element. Such aestheticism (including such sexual restraint) was endemic to the Apostles, not just to Principia, nor to the dreams that Moore shared with Keynes. Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, a warm-hearted homosexual don and Apostle, wrote the neo-Platonic dialogue A Modern Symposium (1905), about “The Seekers” – a club Dickinson attempted to found37 – whose thirteen members spend a calm English summer night delivering philosophical speeches in a poetic vein.

His phrasing (“Consider . ”) makes yellow seem like an innocent choice, selected arbitrarily upon “inspection” of his mental warehouse. But given that Principia’s next chapters critique Bentham and Mill precisely for equating “good” with felt qualities, it is problematic for Moore to analogize it with a color. Regardless of the analogy’s logical dubiousness, however, the combined aesthetic and political resonances of yellow, a few short years after the Wilde trials, suggest that it is far from an arbitrary selection.

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