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ELT 38:2 1995 demonstrates that it took him far longer to be iconoclastic than one might have thought. In his private life and conversation he was quite unconventional but as a writer he was doubly caught in family tradition. It was not until 1910 that he abandoned the attempt to turn his failed dissertation on Warren Hastings into a book loyal to the family commitment to India, and most of his early writing was for the family journal, the Spectator. Yet these writings were significant, and Rosenbaum carefully considers the long manuscript of the dissertation. Strftchey was not yet able to put his two worlds together, that of appearance and reality: "Looking back from Eminent Victorians and his later works, one might see in Strachey^ Edwardian Cambridge texts a divorce of the outer from the inner. His dissertation is almost exclusively concerned with the manifestations of Hastings's action, whereas his essays for discussion societies are mostly about states of mind." Although the world of painting is not his concern, Rosenbaum ends this study with a mention of Roger Fry's famous "Manet and the Post-Impressionism" exhibition, one of the reasons that Virginia Woolf wrote in 1924 that "on or about December 1910 human character changed." The next volume will deal with the effect of that exhibition upon the Group's writing and much more, I am sure, of its early literary history. The work is eagerly awaited. Peter Stansky ______________ Stanford University Letters of Vanessa Bell Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell. Regina Marler, ed. New York: Pantheon Books, 1993. 593 pp. $30.00 LOOMING BEHIND many studies of the Bloomsbury group and of Virginia Woolf is the silent and enigmatic presence of Woolf s sister Vanessa Bell. Frances Spalding's 1983 biography did much to rescue Bell from silence, as have later studies by Diane Gillespie and Jane Dunn. Now Regina Marler's edition of Vanessa Bell's letters allows her to speak for herself. This collection begins with Vanessa's first extant letter, written to her father, Leslie Stephen, about 1885 and signed "Vanessa Stephen Butterfly." There the six-year-old sets out the terms of the sibling rivalry that would plague the sisters all their lives: "we got some airballs [balloons] ourselves first Ginia's was busted, thenTb.oby's was busted and then Ginia busted mine." Vanessa's last letter, written a month before she died in 1961, exhibits the extreme honesty that had 208 book Reviews provoked a resentful sister long before to persecute her with "horrid" nicknames like "saint." As an octogenarian, Vanessa fears she is forgetting her daughter AngeUca's requests "but on the whole I'd rather know if I do forget, so don't hesitate to say so." That last letter offers a brief valediction on the surviving members of "Old Bloomsbury": Duncan Grant, Leonard Woolf, Clive Bell, and of course Vanessa Bell. Her closing query testifies to the supremacy, almost exclusivity, of painting in her world view. She wonders whether Angelica (living in Yorkshire and mired in domestic responsibility for four teen-age daughters) had submitted paintings to the London Group's exhibition. As children the Stephen sisters made a tacit agreement to divide creative territories between them. The distinction supposedly precluded jealousies, but it had the disadvantage of convincing the sisters that one was visually inept, the other verbally inept. Actually Virginia Woolf was not visually insensitive, nor was Vanessa Bell verbally incompetent. Yet all her life Vanessa maintained "I can't express myself very well on paper." She was known for her verbal confusions: an "elephant in a china shop," "my tail up my sleeve," or "my sleeve in cheek." But these letters show Vanessa's flair for pithy descriptions, rhythm, reversal, and heightened drama. Abrief sampling suggests verbal skills almost rivaling her sister's. "Nature is too much for me altogether, either in the shape of weeds or children, and fills up all one's spare time." On Oliver Strachey^ reputedly platonic affection for her, Vanessa succinctly remarked "I can't say it seemed to me exactly so when it come to my notice." She concluded that the Queen's clothes were like "a pantomime...


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