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LAUGHTER AT POMP'S EXPENSE,
This review is from: Eminent Victorians (Paperback)
The most famous anecdote about this book (and the one that made me aware of it) is the scene of Bertrand Russell in his prison cell incarcerated for his Pacifism during WWI laughing hysterically while reading the work. (And being henceforth rebuked by a guard for doing so in what was, after all, a penal institution.)-The other reviewers are pretty much on the mark in that Strachey set a new standard for biography.-But the piece on General Gordon surpasses all. I can see myself on death row laughing over this section.-It is in part a sad reflection on what years in the Sudan can do to an orthodox Englishman's mind. It is indeed uncanny to hear Gordon aver, on his famous expedition to save Khartoum, nearly the exact words of Baudelaire as he gazed across the perhaps too familiar desert landscape:"It is necessary to be drunken always. This is everything. This is the unique question." (my translation)-This is the aged General the sober English sent on this perilous quest. This is the man who daily battled with the question of what God's Will was for him.-What the Gordon section and the others show, of course, is that man (or woman) is not one-dimensional. Far more often, he(she)is multi-dimensional to the point of being paradoxical. The hypocritical Victorian mindset was pushed over the edge by this book.