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Friends are reading: Roger Fry by Virginia Woolf

1940, The Hogarth Press

Special thanks to my friend for this review.

I am reading Virginia Woolf’s biography of Roger Fry, the art critic and painter. It was Roger Fry who introduced English artists to post-Impressionism and shook up the art world in 1910.

The biography was published in 1940 and necessarily there are certain personal things left out (e.g. his affair with Vanessa Bell, Woolf’s sister), but it doesn’t affect what I’m reading.

Self-Portrait, Roger Fry

I feel quite close to Fry’s personality. He is interested in many things and tries to create a portfolio of work amongst them all. He’s not a great painter although he would like to be. But he has an impact in the world due to his ability to synthesise all the ideas he is coming across and thinking about. I would like to be like him.

I would like, most of all though, to meet or listen to Virginia Woolf. I worship her ability.
Portrait of Virginia Woolf by Roger Fry

Anyway, I thought you might like this summary about WW1 from the biography:

That a break must be made in every life when August 1914 is reached seems inevitable. But the fracture differs according to what is broken. Roger Fry was a man who lived many lives, the active, the contemplative, the public and the private. The war affected them all - it was, he said, ‘ like living in a bad dream.’ And the first shock was terrible. He had come to believe that a more civilised period in human life was beginning; now that hope seemed ended. ‘ I hope never to live to see this mad destruction of all that really counts in life. We were just beginning to be a little civilised and now its all to begin over again…Oh, if only France would keep out and leave Slavs and Teutons to their infernal race hatreds! But we are all entrapped in the net of a heartless bureaucracy’ — such are two exclamations of August 1914.
Plaque at site of first bomb to land on the City, London, 1940

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