A biography of a prominent and popular poet of the first helf of the 20th century. A member of the Bloomsbury Group, Roy Campbell had among his friends T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas and Edith Sitwell. The Bloomsbury set, passionate, unconventional and daring, have passed into literary legend. The life of Roy Campbell, best friend and bitter enemy to many in the group, reveals many of the contradictions and paradoxes behind their stormy relationships. Joseph Pearce examines the man who once ate a vase of daffodils with Dylan Thomas in celebration of St David's Day. He brawled with poets in the pubs of London, yet they refused to press charges against him, saying that he was "a great poet". Later, his wife's affair with Vita Sackville-West nearly tore him apart, prompting them to leave England in search of peace on the Continent. That peace was shattered by the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. Pearce has interviewed Roy Campbell's daughters, his granddaughter and his close friend, Rob Lyle.
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Joseph Pearce is the author of many HarperCollins' biographies, including The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile, and Literary Converts.From Library Journal:
Although James Dickey once expressed his great admiration for Roy Campbell by naming an airplane The Flaming Terrapin after his first poem, Campbell's life and work is now largely forgotten. In straightforward and unremarkable fashion, Pearce (Small Is Still Beautiful) chronicles Campbell's life, from his birth in 1901 in South Africa to his Oxford days, his tumultuous marriage to Mary Garman, his fractious relationship with the Bloomsbury Group, and his meteoric rise and fall as a poet. Critics hailed Campbell's first poem, published when he was 22, as a masterpiece suggestive of Hopkins. Eventually, he and Mary were taken into the Bloomsbury circle, where she had an affair with Vita Sackville-West that almost destroyed their marriage. Disenchanted with the group's pseudo-intellectualism and poetic snobbery, Campbell savaged them in his poem "The Georgiad." In his later years, after converting to Catholicism, Campbell devoted his time to translating the poems of St. John of the Cross and to writing mystical and spiritual verse reminiscent of his earliest poem. As Pearce points out, the poet is perhaps best remembered for his friendships with T.S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Aldous Huxley as well as the enemies he made of Stephen Spender, W.H. Auden, and Cecil Day-Lewis. While Pearce's biography contains some interesting moments, this is a minor book about a minor poet. An optional purchase.
Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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