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ELT: Volume 33:3 1990 factors, in combination with his sense of "transience and the cruelty of the material world" and the possible "fears of sex" that may taunt the sexually adventurous drive him mad? Selected Letters does not bring us closer to knowing why he went mad, though Havelock Ellis's letter to Louis Bragman (Appendix C) helps narrow the field of speculation. Endocrinologists, neurologists, and psychobiologists, had they flourished in 1908, might have further narrowed the field in researching this crisis at mid-life. The disaster is poignantly depicted and its consequences are elaborated in "Years of Decline: 1909-35" in which the aging Symons appears, intermittently, to recover some of his critical ability but, despite his prolific output, not his critical strength. Stanley Weintraub once observed that the biographer, to tell his kind of truth, "must grub among gossip as well as browse amongst books. Literally and figuratively he invades the boudoir, reads other people's letters, rattles skeletons in others' closets." So, too, these biographers who have turned their hands to editing letters present their readers with the artifacts they had re-shaped (Munro twenty years ago, Beckson more recently) to tell their stories in a selfdisclosure that turns back on their earlier tellings. With the publication of this volume Beckson and Munro have given us documentary evidence to form and possibly revalue our own impressions of Symons and to validate or question their earlier tellings of the truths of his life. John J. Conlon University of Massachusetts at Boston A Life of Richard Aldington Charles Doyle. Richard Aldington: A Biography. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1989. xx + 379 pp. $39.95 RICHARD ALDINGTON HAS LONG DESERVED a full-length biography , and it is something of a wonder that he has not had one earlier. Few writers can match his literary achievements in poetry, criticism, fiction, and biography, and he crossed paths (and swords) with so many who have since gained renown in twentieth-century literature that the opportunity for scholarly name-dropping is more than ample. During his lifetime Aldington inspired admiration, love, and respect from those who knew him, and contempt, hatred, and scorn from many whom he scorched with his searing satire, but rarely did he inspire indifference. He was a difficult man to ignore. 348 Book Reviews Aldington was among the Imagist poets, founding the movement with Ezra Pound and H.D. in 1912, and he made a lasting contribution both as poet and as editor of the Egoist until he went to the trenches in 1916. He later edited Imagist anthologies (one as late as 1930) after his own poetry had taken a new direction. He was frequently the first to promote the work of many authors who have since gained prominence, including Joyce, Proust, Eliot, and D. H. Lawrence . Beginning in 1929 with the publication of the best-selling antiwar novel Death of a Hero, Aldington achieved recognition as a novelist whose satiric bent exploded conventional hypocrisy and cant. He particularly attacked politicians and profiteers and self-contradictory moralists whose selfishness and mendacity, in his view, made the Great War inevitable. Aldington had a chip on his shoulder that most men would not be able to lift. He was incredibly forceful in expressing not only his love of life but also his passionate outrage toward those whom he felt were responsible for blighting the modern age. Aldington was also an able translator. His renditions of The Decameron and of Candide remain standard texts (frequently without acknowledgment by sundry publishers), and he achieved much as an editor and scholar despite (or perhaps because of) his limited exposure to university education. His Viking Book of Poetry of the EnglishSpeaking World and his Portable Oscar Wilde attest to his taste and skill as an editor. He wrote the first reliable biography of D. H. Lawrence, and his biography of the Duke of Wellington provided both sympathetic and objective treatment of its subject. His controversial debunking biography Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Enquiry (1955) was a remarkable achievement in that, virtually singlehandedly , he unearthed irrefutable evidence that the public image of T. E. Lawrence was far removed from the reality of Lawrence's enigmatic...


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pp. 348-353
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