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A revelatory narrative of the intersecting lives and works of Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence during 1922, the birth year of modernism The World Broke in Two tells the fascinating story of the intellectual journey four legendary writers, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, and D. H. Lawrence, make over the course of one pivotal year. As A revelatory narrative of the intersecting lives and works of Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence during 1922, the birth year of modernism The World Broke in Two tells the fascinating story of the intellectual journey four legendary writers, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, and D. H. Lawrence, make over the course of one pivotal year. As 1922 begins, all four writers are literally at a loss for words, confronting an uncertain creative future despite success in the past. The literary ground is shifting beneath their feet, as Ulysses is published and Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past is translated into English. Yet, dismal as they felt in January, by the end of the year Woolf has started Mrs. Dalloway, Forster has returned to the pages that would become Passage to India, Lawrence has begun Kangaroo, and Eliot has finished The Waste Land. As Willa Cather put it, The world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts, and what these writers were struggling with that year was in fact the invention of modernism. Based on original research in libraries and archives, The World Broke in Two captures both the literary breakthroughs and the intense personal dramas of these beloved writers as they strive for greatness.


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A revelatory narrative of the intersecting lives and works of Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence during 1922, the birth year of modernism The World Broke in Two tells the fascinating story of the intellectual journey four legendary writers, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, and D. H. Lawrence, make over the course of one pivotal year. As A revelatory narrative of the intersecting lives and works of Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence during 1922, the birth year of modernism The World Broke in Two tells the fascinating story of the intellectual journey four legendary writers, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, and D. H. Lawrence, make over the course of one pivotal year. As 1922 begins, all four writers are literally at a loss for words, confronting an uncertain creative future despite success in the past. The literary ground is shifting beneath their feet, as Ulysses is published and Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past is translated into English. Yet, dismal as they felt in January, by the end of the year Woolf has started Mrs. Dalloway, Forster has returned to the pages that would become Passage to India, Lawrence has begun Kangaroo, and Eliot has finished The Waste Land. As Willa Cather put it, The world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts, and what these writers were struggling with that year was in fact the invention of modernism. Based on original research in libraries and archives, The World Broke in Two captures both the literary breakthroughs and the intense personal dramas of these beloved writers as they strive for greatness.

21 review for The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Many books have been shaped around the events of a particular year and, in this work, author Bill Goldstein takes a quote from Willa Cather, who said that 1922 was, “the year the world broke in two, ” as a starting point to look at Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence and E.M. Forster and the challenges they faced during that year. It is generally considered the year of modernism, when it seems the whole of literary London was reading Joyce’s, “Ulysses,” and Proust’s first English translati Many books have been shaped around the events of a particular year and, in this work, author Bill Goldstein takes a quote from Willa Cather, who said that 1922 was, “the year the world broke in two, ” as a starting point to look at Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence and E.M. Forster and the challenges they faced during that year. It is generally considered the year of modernism, when it seems the whole of literary London was reading Joyce’s, “Ulysses,” and Proust’s first English translation. The year began with all four of the authors, who are the subjects of this book, struggling in different ways. Goldstein cleverly weaves potted biographies, alongside the events of the year and the challenges the four authors faced. Virginia Woolf began the year with influenza, her writing limited by illness and unhappy at facing the milestone of turning forty. T.S. Eliot was in Lausanne, recovering from a nervous breakdown, but knowing he had to return to England, a difficult marriage, a job which left him little time to write and financial uncertainty. Forster was returning to England from India, where he faced returning to his dominating mother. Meanwhile, Lawrence started the year in Sicily, before travelling to Australia to write. During the year, Woolf, Eliot and Forster are in fairly close contact, but Lawrence does not seem to fit the feel of the book as well. There is an interesting part in New York, where the Society for the Suppression of Vice, take exception to “Woman in Love.” However, he is distant in terms of place and, although he was writing, he was certainly not working on one of his best known books. Meanwhile, Woolf was developing, “Mrs Dalloway,” Eliot working on “The Waste Land,” and Forster – after such a long period of not publishing anything that many thought he was dead – continued his, “Indian fragment,” which would evolve into, “A Passage to India.” In reality, this book is not really what it pretends to be. Not all these great works were published, or even finished, during this year; even if they were started – often after a long period without inspiration or success. Lawrence seems something of a stretch and does not quite work as well. However, the book itself is eminently readable and is a very enjoyable account of literature during the year. As an admirer of Proust, it was gratifying to see the response to his work and interesting to see how the authors reacted to James Joyce. There is much about the trials of publishing, lots of literary gossip and intrigue, and interesting insights into the featured authors. Overall, a very enjoyable read about an important year in literature.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I utterly loved "The World Broke in Two" -- as a reader and as a writer. It's captivating and inspiring. Bill Goldstein writes like a gifted novelist ("caught in the vise of his grief;" "the burr, examined, became, as usual, a spur;" "what Thayer had lost of face he was making up in circulation"). It just happens that the four main characters are Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, and E.M. Forster. When I was done, I immediately went to my dog-earred Forster and Woolf and savored them ag I utterly loved "The World Broke in Two" -- as a reader and as a writer. It's captivating and inspiring. Bill Goldstein writes like a gifted novelist ("caught in the vise of his grief;" "the burr, examined, became, as usual, a spur;" "what Thayer had lost of face he was making up in circulation"). It just happens that the four main characters are Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, and E.M. Forster. When I was done, I immediately went to my dog-earred Forster and Woolf and savored them again, too.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    There are some dates that seem to change the world into a 'before' and 'after': the first battles of WW1 that saw an unimaginable number of men slaughtered; the liberation of the Nazi death camps that made the Holocaust visual and visceral to the world; the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; 9/11 - Goldstein takes that idea and tries to apply it to 1922 as a 'year that changed literature'. It's a great idea for a book, even if the text itself doesn't quite live up to the progr There are some dates that seem to change the world into a 'before' and 'after': the first battles of WW1 that saw an unimaginable number of men slaughtered; the liberation of the Nazi death camps that made the Holocaust visual and visceral to the world; the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; 9/11 - Goldstein takes that idea and tries to apply it to 1922 as a 'year that changed literature'. It's a great idea for a book, even if the text itself doesn't quite live up to the programme. The flaw, in my view, is that only two of the writers under scrutiny - Woolf, Eliot - make ground-breaking progress in this year: Woolf starts work on Mrs. Dalloway, her Proustian book that strives to find a way to blend memory and the present to render the texture of life and character in textual form; and Eliot edits, finalises and publishes The Waste Land, a poem which uses fragments of texts and culture to articulate a broken world. The other two writers - Forster, Lawrence - feel far more tangential, though at least Forster links socially to Woolf and Eliot. Lawrence is far from the UK, and the writing of Kangaroo can only, with the greatest optimism, be regarded as an event which changes the face of literature. It's difficult to see why Goldstein didn't choose Joyce whose Ulysses was published in 1922, or Proust who was first translated into English in this year. Woolf, Eliot and Forster were all reading them (Woolf with a snobbish disdain for Joyce whom she regards as provincial and underbred!) and their books, arguably, changed the literary game far more profoundly. That critique aside, this is a wonderfully engrossing read. Goldstein has researched it well and tells his stories with empathy and intelligence. The mix of biography and light textual criticism work well together to keep this 'popular' rather than academic but with substance and heft.

  4. 5 out of 5

    M. Sarki

    The web of all four writers hinges both on their mutual relationships and on the censorship issues of their time. A very interesting read and fascinating study for the literary ones among us. Well-written and easily engaged. On a personal note I did find Virginia Woolf imminently more interesting than the three men also intimately exposed.

  5. 5 out of 5

    MaryBeth's Bookshelf

    What a fascinating look at four authors who changed the world of literature - Virginia Woolf, T.S. Elliot, D.H. Lawrence, and E.M. Forster. This book chronicles each authors life during the year 1922 as they wrote some of their most important and well known books. I listened to the audio, brilliantly narrated by the author himself, and felt transported back to that time. I couldn't help but think how amazing it must have been to do the research for this with access to their personal papers and d What a fascinating look at four authors who changed the world of literature - Virginia Woolf, T.S. Elliot, D.H. Lawrence, and E.M. Forster. This book chronicles each authors life during the year 1922 as they wrote some of their most important and well known books. I listened to the audio, brilliantly narrated by the author himself, and felt transported back to that time. I couldn't help but think how amazing it must have been to do the research for this with access to their personal papers and diaries. This is a must read for any modernist literature lovers.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Murray Ewing

    I like this approach to biography, narrowing the period to a single (crucial) year, while broadening the remit to include four subjects instead of the usual one. It has the advantage that you skip the (often dull, because they’re not writing) childhood to get to the meat of a writer’s life. Plus, if you get bored with one author’s tribulations, you soon shift focus to another’s, so there’s plenty of variety. The World Broke in Two looks at four writers who brought poetry and the novel into a mode I like this approach to biography, narrowing the period to a single (crucial) year, while broadening the remit to include four subjects instead of the usual one. It has the advantage that you skip the (often dull, because they’re not writing) childhood to get to the meat of a writer’s life. Plus, if you get bored with one author’s tribulations, you soon shift focus to another’s, so there’s plenty of variety. The World Broke in Two looks at four writers who brought poetry and the novel into a modernist age: “Woolf, Forster, Eliot, and Lawrence were, at the start of 1922, writers in deep despair, privately confronting an uncertain creative future; each of them felt literally at a loss for words… Behind these four writers’ creative struggles and triumphs and private dramas—nervous breakdowns, chronic illness, intense loneliness, isolation, and depression, not to mention the difficulties of love and marriage and legal and financial troubles—lay a common spectral ghost: the cataclysm of World War I that each of them, in 1922, almost four years after the Armistice, was at last able to deal with creatively.” Of the four, Lawrence was the writer I knew least about, and perhaps because of this — or perhaps because he was gadding about the world while the others at least spent the majority of the year close to one another in England — he seemed to fit in the least with the others’ interweaving lives. (Eliot, Forster and Woolf quite often met up. I longed for at least one get-together between the others and Lawrence, if only because of Goldstein’s writing: “There was very little about Lawrence that wasn’t irritating to someone.”) But, as I didn’t know a lot about any of the lives except Eliot’s, (and that seems slightly different in every book about him I read, so it’s always worth trying another), this was a good introduction to these authors’ lives. And it certainly left me wanting to re-read each of the novels/poems that were created in this book’s time period.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Willa Cather pronounced that 'the world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts'. WWI had been one of the most devastating conflicts in world history, leaving 41 million dead. Those who survived combat returned home wounded in body and soul and mind. Vast stretches of Europe had been turned into a wasteland, leaving millions of refugees. The Victorian world view and values were irrelevant and archaic. A new world view was arising from the ashes. The World Broke in Two by Bill Goldstein presents the p Willa Cather pronounced that 'the world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts'. WWI had been one of the most devastating conflicts in world history, leaving 41 million dead. Those who survived combat returned home wounded in body and soul and mind. Vast stretches of Europe had been turned into a wasteland, leaving millions of refugees. The Victorian world view and values were irrelevant and archaic. A new world view was arising from the ashes. The World Broke in Two by Bill Goldstein presents the personal and artistic struggles of T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and D. H. Lawrence to create literature that spoke to this changed world. James Joyce's Ulysses and the newly translated In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust were the literary sensations of the day. T. S. Eliot was a huge promoter of Joyce's book, which Lawrence found unreadable. Proust was a huge influence on Woolf, as was Eliot's poem The Waste Land which he had read aloud at her home. Forster was inspired by Proust. Each writer was searching for a new voice and vision. "Well--what remains to be written after that?" Virginia Woolf after reading Proust in 1922 The authors' personal lives were a mess. Eliot suffered a nervous breakdown and had an ill wife. He could not seem to let go of his poem The Wasteland and strung publishers along. He wore green tinted makeup to appear even more pathetic. It had been years since Forster's last published novel. He lived with his smothering mother and was sexually frustrated, longing for love. He escaped by taking a position in India. He fell in love with a younger, married man who played the lovestruck Forster. And then the man died. Forster was in grief, unable to finish what was to become his last novel, A Passage to India. Woolf was ill much of the year. She was trying to find a voice and style that was new. Mrs. Dalloway started as a minor character but was growing into her own novel. Goldstein writes that Joyce, Proust, and Eliot seemed to raise the question: "What connects it together?" Woolf sought to find "some sort of fusion" that was missing in Ulysses and The Waste Land. And Lawrence continued to wander the world with Frieda, his novels banned as obscene. They had left England in 1917, going to Australia, and then America. Invited to live in Taos, he determined to write an "American novel from that centre." The Waste Land was finally published late in the year, and a monetary prize was given to Eliot. He left his bank job to work for the publisher that became Faber and Faber. Forster's novel A Passage To India was published in 1924, dedicated to his beloved, and became a best seller. Lawrence published Aaron's Rod in 1922 and his Australian novel Kangaroo the following year. He became financially comfortable. Woolf's story Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street was published in 1923 and her novel Mrs. Dalloway in 1925. My first Forster book was A Passage to India. I discovered Eliot in my late teens. Woolf was a later happy discovery; I have also read several books about her life. Although I have not read Lawrence's novels I have enjoyed his stories and poetry. And, in college, I had an honors course on Joyce's Ulysses.With this background, I was very interested in learning about the relationship between these writers and how they were inspired by Joyce and Proust. I had not realized how much of Eliot's personal life can be found in The Wasteland, including clips of conversations. The oppression felt in the poem was very personal, rooted in his private life, as well as influenced by his contemporary world. Forster, Woolf, and Eliot suffered from depression and were emotionally fragile. Poor Forster, unable to be open about his sexual orientation, writing about love between men and women and longing for a fulfilling adult love of his own. A reviewer I read said she would not want to spend time with any of these writers. I found that sad. I am amazed to think what these authors accomplished considering the burdens they labored under, Eliot working in a dull office job, his loveless marriage and ill wife; lonely Forster staying with his overbearing mother; Woolf fighting depression; Lawrence driven from place to place with Frieda. All having seen a devastating war upend everything that seemed permanent. I found Goldstein's book an interesting read both as biography and as an examination of an important moment in literature. I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    I got a free copy of this from a Goodreads giveaway. I was mainly interested in Mr. DH Lawrence while also appreciating Virginia Woolf and TS Eliot. The latter 2 were particularly boring people obsessing with what others thought of them. EM Forster was more interesting, being a gay man in a time where that was socially unacceptable. As for the title of the book, the author presents these authors works of 1922 as changing literature, but then mentions on almost every page how they were all respon I got a free copy of this from a Goodreads giveaway. I was mainly interested in Mr. DH Lawrence while also appreciating Virginia Woolf and TS Eliot. The latter 2 were particularly boring people obsessing with what others thought of them. EM Forster was more interesting, being a gay man in a time where that was socially unacceptable. As for the title of the book, the author presents these authors works of 1922 as changing literature, but then mentions on almost every page how they were all responding to what Proust and Joyce had recently written. Should the book not have been called 'Four Authors who responded to Joyce and Proust?' No disrespect intended to these great writers (I still need to read Forster) but 1922 didn't seem special after reading this.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Rowan

    I'm a long-time reader of works by and about the Bloomsbury group and other writers and artists who were peripherally connected to it, so much of what's in this book was familiar to me. And yet there was much I learned, particularly about E. M. Forster. Either he has not been the subject of a good deal of bio-critical work, or I simply haven't noted and/or read the material, which is odd because he's been my consistent favorite author of the four dealt with here. I freely confess that most of the I'm a long-time reader of works by and about the Bloomsbury group and other writers and artists who were peripherally connected to it, so much of what's in this book was familiar to me. And yet there was much I learned, particularly about E. M. Forster. Either he has not been the subject of a good deal of bio-critical work, or I simply haven't noted and/or read the material, which is odd because he's been my consistent favorite author of the four dealt with here. I freely confess that most of the people who appear in this account are people I would not want to know, no matter how much I enjoy their work. Goldstein doesn't linger on their personality flaws quite as much as do other biographers, and yet the, ah, difficult quality of their personalities does show through. In fairness, Woolf had more than her share of mental and emotional issues to contend with, and Goldstein touches on those issues rather deftly, not lingering on them, but not dismissing them as either unimportant to Woolf's work, or some kind of hysteria. He is perhaps a bit less kind to Eliot who suffered from vague neurosis for many years, though it seemed as if it was largely due to having to work for a living, and having married a woman as neurotic as he was. Forster seems repressed and unhappy, a quiet, workmanlike writer. And Lawrence, as usual, comes across as unbearable. All that aside, Goldstein does an amazing job of providing the reader with a clear idea of what it's like to be a writer, the roadblocks and uncertainties, the painful self-doubt that often pairs with a sense that our work is possibly the most significant the world will ever know. In that respect alone this book is eye-opening. In a larger sense it gives the reader a view into the birth of modernism in literature. Though James Joyce and his master work, "Ulysses" is not directly examined here, it permeates the whole of the book. "Ulysses" was serialized from 1918 to 1920, and published in toto in 1922, the year referred to in the book's title. It was a book that changed the way writers viewed literature, and in fact the title of the book comes from a quote by Willa Cather who said that the world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts, referring to a sea change not only in literary style but substance as well. The subjects of this volume are aware of "Ulysses," they attempt to read it and are alternately impressed and infuriated by it, but do not remain unchanged by its existence. It becomes a kind of touchstone for contemporary writing, a path out of the old forms and into new ones. Each of the four writers Goldstein follows struggles with these changes, with their sense that there is something more they can do with their work, something greater, more modern, more meaningful. And by the end of 1922, they are all breaking through their blocks to create the works which moved them all into the modern era. Goldstein does a masterly job of blending both biographical and critical commentary, holding his focus on four writers and the space of one year, yet framing them with what was happening in the world as a whole, and the literary world, showing them in contact with and in relation to other writers such as Joyce, Proust, Pound, and others. It's not exactly what I'd call a good starting point for anyone who is not familiar with the work of these four writers, but if you are, it will expand your understanding of them and their work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    The world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts. Willa Cather, Not Under Forty A magnificent book about the Bloomsbury Group. Besides, it covers the literary lives of 4 of my favorite authors. The notes and references provide us with plenty of further bibliography on this subject.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I finished The World Broke In Two and many thanks to the Librarything Early Reviewers program for getting a chance to read it. It's an interesting premise - that 1922 was a significant year in the lives + work of V Woolf, TS Eliot, DH Lawrence and EM Forster although I don't think the author quite pulls it off because Lawrence - although he moved to Taos, wasn't really publishing anything that significant - or certainly not as notable as Mrs Dalloway or The Waste Land. Still it was interesting an I finished The World Broke In Two and many thanks to the Librarything Early Reviewers program for getting a chance to read it. It's an interesting premise - that 1922 was a significant year in the lives + work of V Woolf, TS Eliot, DH Lawrence and EM Forster although I don't think the author quite pulls it off because Lawrence - although he moved to Taos, wasn't really publishing anything that significant - or certainly not as notable as Mrs Dalloway or The Waste Land. Still it was interesting and very much about the business of writing, the day to day struggles, the difference between working and creating. My mind wandered some at the back and forth Eliot had with his various publishers over The Waste Land. On the other hand, there was a very funny anecdote about Forster, Thomas Hardy and a pet cemetery. Interesting too, how all four writers reacted to Proust and Joyce, both of whom had significant work published in the early 1920s. In some ways, you could say that all four writers began writing in reaction to or inspired by Ulysses and Remembrance of Things Past. For me, the biggest problem with the book was that it didn't inspire me to go back and read any of those authors the way a really good biography or work of criticism can.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This book sheds light on what it is like to be an acclaimed author who is also an avid reader. I'm surprised to learn that some of the greatest literary minds didn't always understand what other great authors were trying to say. I'm also impressed by the effort to "find the right words" these authors struggled with, particularly Woolf in "Mrs. Dalloway" and Forester in "A Passage To India". I have not read either of those books but I think I would like to. This book sheds light on what it is like to be an acclaimed author who is also an avid reader. I'm surprised to learn that some of the greatest literary minds didn't always understand what other great authors were trying to say. I'm also impressed by the effort to "find the right words" these authors struggled with, particularly Woolf in "Mrs. Dalloway" and Forester in "A Passage To India". I have not read either of those books but I think I would like to.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Iva

    Good background on D. H. Lawrence and E. M. Forster. Interesting that the year 1922 provided so many strong writers who are often read today. I found T. S. Eliot the least interesting. Goldstein is able to show the difficult lives/marriages/challenges these authors endured. He has done extensive research; I was glad to know more about Forster as I had just read Room with A View and Howards End. Recommended for readers wanting to know more about these four authors.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    This amazing book will be of interest to anybody who is involved with or has an interest in any of the following: the creative process, books, history, and/or experiencing a non-fiction book that reads like a novel and includes love stories, mental illness, jealousy and suspense regarding major changes in the world after World War I. As a writer, I will focus this review on the benefits that reading this book might bring to those who write, want to write, or who are fascinated about the creative This amazing book will be of interest to anybody who is involved with or has an interest in any of the following: the creative process, books, history, and/or experiencing a non-fiction book that reads like a novel and includes love stories, mental illness, jealousy and suspense regarding major changes in the world after World War I. As a writer, I will focus this review on the benefits that reading this book might bring to those who write, want to write, or who are fascinated about the creative process and want to find out more about it. The four famous writers discussed in this book, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, and E.M. Forster all had different ways that they approached the writing process. Bill Goldstein describes in depth the process for each of these writers. For example, Virginia Woolf found two hours every morning, “the sacred morning hours…Phrase tossing can only be done then.” She found walking and journal writing extremely helpful for her writing. “She kept to both as regularly as possible, believing, as she put it in 1919, “the habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.” Identifying the right time and place to write was a critical decision for each of the four and they all chose a different pattern for their writing endeavors. The sharing of ideas while reading and discussing each other’s work was a second theme about the creative process that surfaced. I have spoken to many writers who find great benefit in joining writer’s groups to do the same thing that was done by authors in the 1920’s. An example of how reading each other’s work at times was helpful describes how E.M. Forster learned from Virginia Woolf. The following passage describes him writing to her about the copy of her book Jacob’s Room she had given him. “It was an ‘amazing success,’ he told her, and his mind was occupied with ‘wondering what developments, both of style and form, might come out of it.’ He had read it, in other words, as a novelist thinking about the use it might be to him.” A third theme related to the creative process dealt with how each of the four worked to overcome sometimes debilitating physical and mental challenges. For example, “T.S. Eliot marked the end of 1921 in Lausanne, Switzerland, continuing to recover from a nervous breakdown so severe in October he had taken three months’ leave of absence from his job at Lloyds Bank…Financial uncertainty, an unhappy marriage, and a stultifying anxiety over the lack of time his job at Lloyds left to write had sculpted what Virginia Woolf called the ‘grim marble’ of Elliot’s face into puffy hollows.” One of the ways he overcame this was by leaving his job at Lloyd’s in 1925 after the successful publication of The Wasteland, a move that was encouraged by many of his literary colleagues. If you love literature that fact alone will make this book a joy to read as you learn about four literary greats while enjoying a story that has dozens of twists and turns. As I have outlined, there is also much to be learned about the writing process for those who write or want to write. Bill Goldstein has written a valuable and useful book. I highly recommend it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cory

    1922 was an intense, anxiety-fueled year for these four writers, all of whom underestimated and downplayed their work...but who wouldn't in a year that saw the publication of Joyce's Ulysses and the English translation of Proust? High points: there is a memorably dreamy passage about Forster reading Proust for the first time aboard a ship en route from Egypt to England via Marseille, having just departed from the man he loved for the last time. And it was totally absorbing to read about Woolf ov 1922 was an intense, anxiety-fueled year for these four writers, all of whom underestimated and downplayed their work...but who wouldn't in a year that saw the publication of Joyce's Ulysses and the English translation of Proust? High points: there is a memorably dreamy passage about Forster reading Proust for the first time aboard a ship en route from Egypt to England via Marseille, having just departed from the man he loved for the last time. And it was totally absorbing to read about Woolf overcoming her intimidation of Eliot and Joyce to write the fucking masterpiece that is "Mrs. Dalloway." Goldstein has a deep understanding of the intuitive and emotional challenges of writing - so many moments made me nod in agreement and slacken my jaw in recognizing a familiar abstract state articulated with such accuracy and precision. Kind-of-eh point: amazing as it was to read an in-depth account of Woolf developing Mrs. Dalloway, I struggled with Goldstein's forceful attempt to tie the narrative back to her personal life. I have always understood "Mrs. Dalloway" as a work that emerged from Woolf's struggle with mental illness, but it never guided my reading of the book. So it felt odd to overlook the narrative motor of that text, which was so revolutionary, for a kind of predictable autobiographical reading. Low points: Eliot and Lawrence came across as the embodiments of Great Man Syndrome. Not to mention, they both claim to be "struggling" with money, yet Eliot turns down several REALLY GOOD offers to publish "The Waste Land" over petty shit, and Lawrence decides to just travel to random places because he's bored and uninspired. Except for Lawrence's censorship trial (which he didn't even show up to) and Eliot's recitation of "The Waste Land" in the Woolfs' living room, my experience reading the Eliot and Lawrence chapters alternated between boredom and frustration. General observation: plenty of juicy diary entries, clandestine letters, abundant gossip, and courtroom drama. Bill Goldstein's enthusiasm is evident throughout, which does a lot to animate some of the more tedious plotlines. Feeling motivated to read some of Woolf and Proust's biographies.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Regina Lemoine

    Interesting read for fans of the early modernist writers. I thoroughly enjoyed the parts about Woolf and Forster—two of my all-time favorites. The Eliot sections are interesting, but the back-and-forth concerning the publishing of “The Wasteland” gets a bit tedious. I really loved the various reactions of these writers to Ulysses and Proust. The DH Lawrence sections are good, but since I’m not really a Lawrence fan, those parts were less interesting to me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This is my second go at this review and I would skip it, but this book is too good and important not to review. Bill Goldstein is the book critic and author interviewer on Today in New York Weekend as well as working at Hunter College in NYC. This book covers the year 1922 when four famous authors were working hard on books that would not only change their lives, but change literature going forward. I have not read any of their work since school and they were lumped together in my mind. Dr. Gold This is my second go at this review and I would skip it, but this book is too good and important not to review. Bill Goldstein is the book critic and author interviewer on Today in New York Weekend as well as working at Hunter College in NYC. This book covers the year 1922 when four famous authors were working hard on books that would not only change their lives, but change literature going forward. I have not read any of their work since school and they were lumped together in my mind. Dr. Goldstein presents them , both in their personal and their writing lives first alone and then together as they interact and meet up. All different personalities, they all had their struggles as writers and their self-doubts, but all were working to write differently according to their own methods. In addition, they mostly had the same worries as everyone else: money, parents, class and love affairs. Dr. Goldstein has written the best kind of narrative non-fiction containing a great story, well written. Edmund Wilson has blurbed the book and he is correct: "You will feel--and be!--much smarter after you read it."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rich Farrell

    I had looked forward to this book having read a review about it in Publishers Weekly and being a fan of both Woolf and Eliot and interested in Lawrence and Forster, but it just didn't catch my interest. Part of it, I felt, was the writing itself. It felt like a long synthesis essay that I'd ask my students to write with endless quotes from personal letters and excerpts from their works strung together with very little analysis to very literally tell the story of what they were doing during that I had looked forward to this book having read a review about it in Publishers Weekly and being a fan of both Woolf and Eliot and interested in Lawrence and Forster, but it just didn't catch my interest. Part of it, I felt, was the writing itself. It felt like a long synthesis essay that I'd ask my students to write with endless quotes from personal letters and excerpts from their works strung together with very little analysis to very literally tell the story of what they were doing during that year. Further, the four authors are dwarfed by Joyce's Ulysses, and it makes it seem that the four title subjects and the works they're looking to publish that year are less important themselves than just riding in the wake of Joyce. Goldstein definitely did his research, but I'm just not sure there was much of a story to tell here. If I could do it all over again, I'd skip this one and read one of the books from the four authors that I haven't gotten around to yet.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Miranda

    This book was FASCINATING. I hadn't thought about just how closely the lives of my favorite modernists were intertwined. I forget that these authors were real people with lives and I really appreciated how this book provided me with an overarching insight into them. There was obviously so much research put into the book because every page quotes from a myriad of letters and diary entries from not only Woolf, Eliot, Lawrence, and Forster, but so many of their other contemporaries and those import This book was FASCINATING. I hadn't thought about just how closely the lives of my favorite modernists were intertwined. I forget that these authors were real people with lives and I really appreciated how this book provided me with an overarching insight into them. There was obviously so much research put into the book because every page quotes from a myriad of letters and diary entries from not only Woolf, Eliot, Lawrence, and Forster, but so many of their other contemporaries and those important to their lives. I'm heartbroken for the sufferings they all went through but also awed by the literary giants that they are.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Had the potential to be very interesting (subject matter) but felt poorly written-- boring and seemed quiet a slog to get through. An awful lot of detail paid to trifles like exact dates of telegrams or letter sent from write to publisher and vice versa.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    I picked this up right about Thanksgiving from the new books display in the nearby library in my system. Very glad to have done so, I enjoyed the book, the stories about these four authors intertwined with their publishing difficulties. I have been struggling with how to review this and having found this on-target review from NPR, I'll start here by quoting excerpts from Glen Weldon: "The ingenious conceit of Goldstein's book is to follow, using excerpts from both their correspondence and their d I picked this up right about Thanksgiving from the new books display in the nearby library in my system. Very glad to have done so, I enjoyed the book, the stories about these four authors intertwined with their publishing difficulties. I have been struggling with how to review this and having found this on-target review from NPR, I'll start here by quoting excerpts from Glen Weldon: "The ingenious conceit of Goldstein's book is to follow, using excerpts from both their correspondence and their diaries, the intertwined personal and literary lives of four writers — Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and Eliot himself — as the three seismic shocks of those publications {James Joyce's Ulysses, Proust's In Search of Lost Time, and Eliot's own "The Waste Land"] ripple through their lives, and their work. To do so, he narrows the focus and imposes strict parameters. Very strict, as it turns out: Apart from some contextualizing commentary, The World Broke in Two rigorously limits itself to the span of days from January 1st to December 31st, 1922."If any of the above suggests a dry accounting of facts, or an academic's penchant for grappling with insular abstractions at 30,000 feet, know this: In letting these four writers speak in their own words — their own witty, gossipy, often waspish words — Goldstein neatly avoids a dutiful chronicling of anything so weighty and abstruse as The Rise of Modernism. Cannily, he sacrifices historical sweep and gravitas for something much more grounded and intimate. In his hands, these literary lions prove surprisingly — and bracingly — catty."----"All four of the writers Goldstein profiles entered the year 1922 rocked back on their heels and in a state for recovery: Woolf from a debilitating bout of influenza, Eliot from a nervous breakdown, Forster reeling from grief over an unrequited infatuation, and Lawrence from both stinging reviews and a restlessness that would send him roaming the world seeking a contentment he was perennially ill-equipped to experience, much less enjoy."The book comes alive in the ceaseless churn of these intersecting egos, as they turn their withering writerly gazes upon one another — and, less eagerly, upon themselves. Their professional and personal jealousy, spite, anxiety and outrage — the familiar hallmarks of the writer's personality — become a kind of humanizing background noise, drawing us in and allowing us to see them more fully. ..."The remainder of this on-target review is worth reading as well: whttps://www.npr.org/2017/07/25/537085...I knew quite a few tidbits about Woolf and Eliot, less about Foster and Lawrence, going into this reading. It delightfully expanded a sense of "these intersecting egos" and reminded one of the writer's sometimes fragile, sometimes tendentious grasp of his or her own capabilities. As one might expect from Goldstein, founding editor of the NYT web site, we are given a walk into the legal and publishing and public conundrums imposed by conservative protectors of decency like Anthony Comstock and his successor John Sumner at "The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice." I found back story information here about Foster that appears to have escaped his Wikipedia entry that added perspective to his eventual masterpiece A Passage to India. I didn't realize quite so strongly Woolf preference of Proust versus Joyce. Past stories of the functioning and interactions of the Bloomsbury group, as homes were opened to chatty visitors, were deepened for me by what Goldstein incorporates here. Lawrence's peripatetic wanderings with his wife Frieda, from Europe to Australia to Taos, here under the patronage of Mabel Dodge Sterne, was basically new territory for me and hence interesting for its novelty alone. The arduous, tortuous route to publication of "The Waste Land" covered difficulties I'd heard before, but with further context about Eliot's health and the interactions of his writing with his position as a banker in London. The machinations associated with the literary publications the Dial and Criterion still slipped by my full appreciation for their significance, but, again, Goldstein seems rather in his element writing about them.Bottom line: If you like messing around with personal and business aspects of book delivery to the public, I can recommend this book to you. May you enjoy it if your decide to peruse it.Here are links to a couple more professional reviews: Eric Bennett, NYTBR: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/09/bo..."The reigning theme of “The World Broke in Two” is writer’s block, treated as an anthropological constant. These modernists, in Goldstein’s hands, often resemble graduate students at the moment you least want to encounter them...." A fun review, that captures several reactions I had not touched upon by Weldon above.Robert Allen Papinchak: http://www.thenationalbookreview.com/... A bit heavy handed, still the enthusiasm may not be misplaced -- if nothing else, the book reads quickly and smoothly:"At the end, The World Broke in Two is invaluable. It does what any good book about literature should do. It provides context to writers. It sends readers to read books they have never read before. And it reminds them of the joys of re-reading ones they have, and rediscovering the thrills of the fiction and the poetry once appreciated but now forgotten."Nick Major: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15..."...Woolf started trying out for herself 'what Forster noted as Proust’s breakthrough: to use memory and experience to illustrate a character’s state of mind.'” .... flag 1 like · Like  · see review Oct 12, 2018 Sarah added it I am not going to rate this one because I listened to it as an audiobook and sometimes didn't devote my whole attention to it while multi-tasking. Additionally, I was most interested in the Eliot and Woolf sections, though I became increasingly interested in Forster. Lawrence fell through the cracks for me and was, I think, one subject too many for the book's style and scope. (I have somehow managed to read two Forster novels in my life yet can hardly remember anything but Merchant Ivory images. I am not going to rate this one because I listened to it as an audiobook and sometimes didn't devote my whole attention to it while multi-tasking. Additionally, I was most interested in the Eliot and Woolf sections, though I became increasingly interested in Forster. Lawrence fell through the cracks for me and was, I think, one subject too many for the book's style and scope. (I have somehow managed to read two Forster novels in my life yet can hardly remember anything but Merchant Ivory images. This book did convince me that I need to read A Passage to India soon; I remain largely uninterested by Lawrence.) I'll probably come back to this to brush up on my Modernists in the future, but what I most enjoyed was the glimpse into Woolf's craft--especially her early drafts of what became Mrs Dalloway-- and her anxieties about having accomplished so little at forty. Overall, this is most successful in its unfolding of Woolf and Forster's consciousness and seĺf-consciousness of themselves as authors. flag 1 like · Like  · see review Jun 20, 2020 Connie Kronlokken added it This account of the year 1922, culled from the letters and journals of Woolf, Forester, Lawrence and Eliot, is full of detail about what they were thinking, and how they each responded to the publication of Joyce's "Ulysses." My own enduring love of Woolf continues! She accomplished so much. This account of the year 1922, culled from the letters and journals of Woolf, Forester, Lawrence and Eliot, is full of detail about what they were thinking, and how they each responded to the publication of Joyce's "Ulysses." My own enduring love of Woolf continues! She accomplished so much. flag 1 like · Like  · see review Feb 24, 2018 Claire rated it it was ok Shelves: nonfiction, history I didn’t love the structure and at times the use of info or quotes seemed a stretch. flag 1 like · Like  · see review Oct 09, 2018 Dean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition An interesting account of the lives of four authors in 1922. flag 1 like · Like  · see review Jan 29, 2019 Laurel Hicks rated it it was amazing Shelves: audible, books-read-in-2019, 2019-1 Fascinating in many ways. flag 1 like · Like  · see review Dec 23, 2017 Zulfiya rated it really liked it A very well-researched book about the year that was crucial and marked the birth of modern literature. I enjoyed the author's style with its well-paced and well-constructed sentences, with insightful analysis, with detailed historical perspective looking back and forth in time for the authors I like and whose works I cherish. I also enjoyed revisiting the world these authors created albeit it happened mainly tangentially. A very well-researched book about the year that was crucial and marked the birth of modern literature. I enjoyed the author's style with its well-paced and well-constructed sentences, with insightful analysis, with detailed historical perspective looking back and forth in time for the authors I like and whose works I cherish. I also enjoyed revisiting the world these authors created albeit it happened mainly tangentially. flag 1 like · Like  · see review Jul 28, 2018 Tim Pinckney rated it really liked it The premise is that in 1922, these four authors, either began, moved forward with or finished seminal works. I found it fascinating to read what challenged and encouraged these giants to take the significant step forward that each of them did. I knew almost nothing about Eliot, a little more about Lawrence and Woolf and quite a bit more about Forster. As someone who is as interested in the author as I am in the work, I was in a bit of heaven for much of this read. flag 1 like · Like  · see review Oct 06, 2020 Joseph Spuckler rated it it was amazing Shelves: history, biography, british, bloomsbury The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature by Bill Goldstein is the interconnected story of four of the twentieth century’s greatest writers and the influence of two of their peers. Goldstein is a multifaceted littérateur and holds a Ph.D. in English from the CUNY Graduate Center, with a specialization in early modern English literature. Goldstein has also worked both in publishing and in journalism, most notably as a s The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature by Bill Goldstein is the interconnected story of four of the twentieth century’s greatest writers and the influence of two of their peers. Goldstein is a multifaceted littérateur and holds a Ph.D. in English from the CUNY Graduate Center, with a specialization in early modern English literature. Goldstein has also worked both in publishing and in journalism, most notably as a senior editor at Scribner, and then at the New York Times, where he was the founding editor of the nytimes.com Books section.The premise of the book is stated early on -- “The World Broke in Two tells the story of 1922 by focusing on four legendary writers: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, and D. H. Lawrence, who were all similarly and serendipitously moved during that remarkable year to invent the language of the future.” The title itself comes from a 1936 Willa Cather essay “The world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts.” She was referring to the publication of Joyce’s Ulysses and the publication of The Waste Land. H. L. Mencken referred to 1922 as the end of the Christian Era and as year 1 p.s. U. -- Year 1 post scriptum Ulysses. In literature, it was a time of great change. The increased momentum of change may very well have been the Great War. Its influence can be seen in Eliot’s The Waste Land and even in Virginia Woolf’s story that became book “Mrs. Dalloway of Broad Street”. A backfire of a car startles people back to memories of war. Mrs. Dalloway even makes notice of the eleven o’clock hour in her shopping, the hour the war ended. That shock which rocked Europe from 1914 through 1918 produced the change which blossomed four years later. Goldstein writes a web of connection between the main writers. Chapters center around individual writers but form connections between each and all. Included in the connections are Ezra Pound, publishers, and the driving influence of change, James Joyce. The writers all had their problems; Woolf with physical and mental health. Eliot with nervous breakdowns and an ill wife. Forster with sexuality and perhaps too strong of an attachment to his mother. Lawrence traveled the world to be left alone. He was a letter writer, not a mingler or conversationalist. He also faced censorship troubles and at least one psychiatrist who read his earlier work deemed him a homosexual who overcompensated for this by his erotic works. Despite difficulties 1922 saw the publication and beginnings of Jacob’s Room and Mrs. Dalloway (Woolf), The Waste Land (Eliot), Aaron’s Rod and Kangaroo (Lawrence), Alexandria: A History and Guide and A Passage to India (Forster).Several other themes run through the book. Censorship of Joyce and Lawrence particularly in the United States and the battle fought by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. The early twentieth century allowed for easy suppression of literature. Groups like the New York Society had enough clout to get works banned by their say so and possessed some extra-legal powers to confiscate books. Their standing was much like the religious police currently in several Islamic countries. Lawrence’s publisher, Seltzer fought back and won the battle for Lawrence’s Women in Love in 1922. This opened the way and the ruling that just because there was an obscene part of the book did not mean the entire book could be banned as a result. This, however, was not the end of censorship in the US or even of Seltzer, he eventually went bankrupt fighting for his right to publish. Reaction to the other writer’s work is also interesting. Woolf disliked Ulysses but was influenced nonetheless. She stated she never read The Waste Land but loved the reading of it by Eliot. Lawrence could not read Ulysses. Eliot wrote of Joyce in The Dial ‘the most important expression which the present age has found’. Forster like Woolf preferred Proust to Ulysses. Regardless of their individual opinions, all were influenced by that work. The World Broke in Two presents the change in literature with authors who were struggling in their own ways do provide something new. Jacob’s Room was a clear departure from Day and Night for Woolf who turned forty in 1922. She would find the connection she searched for once Mrs. Dalloway on Broad Street became a novel. Woolf saw connection as an important part of literature and, in a way, provides a connection between the other authors. The Waste Land was a clear departure from Eliot’s earlier work, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" five years earlier. Lawrence continues his writing while doing his best to isolate himself from people. Forster, pushing fifty, struggles to write his India story. Forster would finish his India book, A Passage to India, a few years later, a full fourteen years after publishing Howards End.Goldstein weaves history, literature, and psychology together in a spectacular read. His narrative moves smoothly between the authors and the topics. Woolf who was constantly flustered with the lack of connectivity in Jacob's Room and The Waste Land would be happy at the connectivity Goldstein establishes between the writers and the development of the literary modernism. Coming into this book I was familiar with Eliot, but more so with Woolf. However, introducing the other authors helped complete the picture of the modernist movement in literature. A very important read concerning the development of twentieth-century literature. The best nonfiction that I have read this year. Available August 15, 2017 flag Like  · see review Jun 11, 2017 Stephanie Griffin rated it liked it These people were messed up! I think I'll read their books! These people were messed up! I think I'll read their books! flag 1 like · Like  · see review « previous 1 2 3 4 next »

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