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Julian Bell: From Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War Hardcover – January 11, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

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"This biography meticulously fleshes out Bell's family relations, aesthetic efforts, and social and political commitments. . . It was a life marked by a redemptive courage, and it was, as Stansky and Abrahams show, a rich life—rich in the living, and rich in the telling."—Todd Avery, Virginia Woolf Miscellany


"Stansky is also very good at showing Bell resisting as well as being a direct exemplar of Bloomsbury ideas, ideals, and habits, and also as one who breaks from these . . . [Bell] offers an excellent lens on both the Bloomsbury topsoil and the roots below . . . [A] text that affords, in nearly equal measure, instruction, pathos, and pleasure."—Judith Scherer Herz, English in Translation


"Peter Stansky's biography gives weight to the argument that Julian's life, though it was short and not as accomplished as others in Bloomsbury, was significant. He was to be reckoned with—not only as an adventurous young man passionate about fighting fascism like many of his generation in the 1930s—but as a corrective to Bloomsbury's narrowness of vision about what values count in a life . . . Stansky astutely, honestly and sympathetically presents a new portrait of Julian Bell, psychologically and emotionally shadowed by his eminent family and their friends in perhaps the most important intellectual circle in twentieth-century England."—Patricia Laurence, Cercles: Revue pluridisciplinaire du monde anglophone


"The writers do a fine job of excerpting poems, letters, and essays to give a sense of Bell's thinking . . . [Julian Bell is] full of fresh information, [and] is particularly rich."—Charles Oberndorf, The Volunteer


"An intergenerational conversation, between the younger and the older Peter Stansky, as well as between Julian Bell and his elders in the Bloomsbury Group. A new Julian Bell emerges—even franker about his physical and emotional needs, even more frustrated by claustrophobic England—which makes more telling and inevitable his spectacular end on the battlefields of Spain. A beautiful, tragic book."—Peter Mandler, University of Cambridge

About the Author

Peter Stansky and William Abrahams wrote four books together, including Journey to the Frontier, a study of John Cornford and Julian Bell. The late William Abrahams went on to be one of the most distinguished editors of the century; Peter Stansky became Frances and Charles Field Professor of History at Stanford University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; First Edition edition (January 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804774137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804774130
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,154,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Holzman on July 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Peter Stansky, history's most elegant stylist, equally at home among archival folders and at tea-time interviews, begins Julian Bell: From Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War with a reflective Preface, recounting how

"Julian Bell was on my mind in 2004 as I chaired a session largely concerned with him at the first International Virginia Woolf Conference to be held outside of the United States, at the Senate House of the University of London, appropriately in the Bloomsbury district . . . The climax of the celebration was a grand dinner at King's College, Cambridge, Julian's College as well as E. M. Forster's, Roger Fry's, and John Maynard Keynes's (and mine, where I did a second bachelor of arts after my American one) . . . There was a reception before the dinner, on the great lawn at the back of the Gibbs building at King's--it was a ravishing summer evening, England at its best--with a view of the Cam, of Clare College, of the building where Dadie Rylands had his rooms, and of Bodley's, where I had lived my first undergraduate year . . . I was going back to London by bus after the dinner, but just before hurrying to catch it, I had a message that Olivier [Bell] would like to speak to me . . ."

The conversation was about the dual biography of Julian Bell and John Cornford, Journey to the Frontier that Stansky and William Abrahams had published forty years earlier. Given the new material now available, was another biography of Julian Bell necessary?

Julian Bell was the eldest child of Clive and Vanessa (Stephen) Bell, nephew of (Julian) Thoby, Adrian and Virginia Stephen, intimate from infancy with the entire King's College/Bloomsbury connection from Keynes and Strachey to Blunt and Burgess.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Ann Simmons on June 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Spanish Civil War --too Many Lost too soon-

When Julian Bell left Bloomsbury went off to have an experience of war in the Spanish Civil War, a dedicated supporter of the Republic, he had already proved that his was a forward looking, deep thinking young man "of action." He had taught in China and enjoyed, for the most part, a sweetly passionate love affair with his boss' wife, among other willing women. His aunt, Virginia Woolf, wrote in her diary after his death that "he stalks beside me, in many different shapes."
Julian Bell, by Peter Stansky emeritus history professor at Stanford University is an exercise is the intricate weaving of past and present and those who inhabit both. It tells of the romance that was Julian Bell but it also implies the tale of the long relationship between Doctor Stansky and William Abrahams. Neither Bell nor Abrahams lived long enough but Stansky's dramatic narrative remembers both with grace.
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Julian Bell: From Bloomsbury to the Spanish Civil War
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