Cyril Connolly: The Life and Times of England's Most Controversial Literary Critic

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9780312139537: Cyril Connolly: The Life and Times of England's Most Controversial Literary Critic

Revealing his brilliant wit and his profound influence, along with his tendency to excesses of the flesh, a chronicle of the life of the English essayist and critic also discusses Connolly's friendships with the literary greats, including Eliot and Orwell.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Influential English literary critic Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) is best known for his wartime reflections, The Unquiet Grave (1944), an angst-ridden quest for artistic integrity in a world gone mad. That book's eloquent pessimism about marriage, art, happiness, its self-pity and hedonism, were salient features in Connolly's personal life, observes British author Fisher, a biographer of Noel Coward. This stylish, disarming biography gets beneath Connolly's persona as snobbish, worldly-wise hedonist to reveal a man tormented by self-reproach and self-doubt, beset by a sense of failure despite the success of his magazine Horizon. Fisher dazzlingly portrays Connolly's stellar circle, which included Evelyn Waugh, W.H. Auden, George Orwell, Anthony Powell, Sylvia Beach, Stephen Spender and Arthur Koestler. He discusses Connolly's three stormy marriages and his encounters with Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Ian Fleming. This spirited biography will send readers to Connolly's self-portraits, The Unquiet Grave and Enemies of Promise (1938), and to his 1936 novel The Rock Pool. Photos.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Connolly should have been a contender. Educated at Eton and Oxford, a man of obvious talent, wit, and charm, with friends such as Evelyn Waugh, George Orwell, and many members of Britain's upper crust, Connolly might have parlayed his considerable gifts into the literary stratosphere. Instead, he is remembered mostly as a brilliant and idiosyncratic book reviewer for the London press and as the inspired editor of Horizon, a literary magazine begun in 1940; he is also credited with maintaining the morale of Britain's more literate populace through those dark days. Fisher (Noel Coward, LJ 6/1/92) explicates the character flaws that blighted Connolly's career and emphasizes his friendship and support for the literary greats of the period. Yet he cannot ultimately explain the frittering away of Connolly's talent and the innate sadness of his life. As Malcolm Muggeridge said of him, "His lost masterpieces give a piquancy to his criticism." For specialist and general literary collections.
Shelley Cox, Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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