Saturday, January 19, 2008

This Week in Reading January 20 - 26

Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf this week?
Have you ever read anything by her or by anyone else in the Bloomsbury Group of which she was considered a member? How about the other Londoner born on the same day a few years earlier, W. Somerset Maugham? Which of the two would you like more? They wrote about the same time but didn't care for each other's works much. You can decide whose style and concerns interest you more.

We Americaphiles can read one of our homegrown classic writers this week, Edith Wharton, whose work was nearly contemporaneous with theirs but both just as rich yet more than plain than either.

This Week's question:
What exactly is the Bloomsbury Group?

Answer to last week's question: Many people have used the phrase "a Horatio Alger story" to describe how someone became successful by pulling himself up by his bootstraps. Alger wrote dozens of these very popular books in the 1800s. However, his story was essentially the same one over and over. And it was hardly "rags to riches." It was about some poor, but well meaning clerk in a company who faced difficulties and seemed to help others in the company, and in every instance, was rewarded by the company owner or wealth holder who found his work ethic or values of note. Rather than becoming rich by his own ingenuity the subject of each book got promoted from clerk to head clerk or maybe to assistant manager because of his loyal hard work. not to anything higher. The class and opportunity based disparities between those who ran companies and those who worked for them never were addressed. First, you have to have boots from which to pull straps.

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