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Cyril Connolly: A Life Paperback – 7 May 1998
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A superative biography of one of the key fogures of English literary life in the twentieth century.
Cyril Connolly was haunted throughout his life by a sense of failure and a romantic yearning to recover a lost Eden. His two books, "The Unquiet Grave" and "Enemies of Promise" are considered to be classics of English prose, and as editor of "Horizon" he nurtured some of the finest writers of his time. Jeremy Lewis has had access to previously unpublished letters, diaries, articles and stories, and he quotes extensively from these in this biography of Cyril Connolly. He has also spoken to many of those who knew and loved his subject.See all Product description
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Like all good biographies it has led me back to re-reading Connolly himself.
The treatment of 'footnotes', batching them by chapter and page without in-text referencing, is well done on the whole but problematic whre pagination has slipped.
The mystery of Connolly's charm remains. He comes across as so spoiled, self-indulgent, greedy and manipulative that it would have had to be great indeed, but so it must have been to win the allegiance, and support both emotional and financial, of so many more distinguished figures. How much can being a fine prose stylist excuse? But Lewis does not judge, although honest about the impact of CC's pretty gruesome behaviour.
Barbara Skelton's memoir of her life with CC, 'Tears Before Bedtime', also a must-read.
Anthony Powell's own summing-up of the mystery - why such constant interest in this in many ways marginal figure (in creative terms? - remains in large part unanswered - fundamentally it seems that Cyril added some electricity to life which could be stimulating or dangerous like all natural forces.
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