The World Broke in Two

Goldstein, Bill. The world Broke in Two. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2017.

Reason read: a May Early Review from LibraryThing to be published in July.

A great deal of important writing occurred in 1922. Joyce’s controversial Ulysses was published in February and everyone wanted to read it. F. Scott Fitzgerald published in March. Proust’s In Search of Lost Time and Sinclair Lewis’s Babbit were published in September. It was a good year for children’s books, too. The Velveteen Rabbit (Margery Williams) and Dr. Doolittle (Hugh Lofting) were both published in 1922. But, for Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, and D.H. Lawrence 1922 started out primarily as an empty page, a blank stare, a “literary apocalypse” as Goldstein called it. All four suffered from a lack of inspiration; the dreaded writer’s block. Shocking, as all had been successful in previous years. 1922 started with Virginia being perpetually ill with fevers well over one hundred degrees. Tom was busy being intimidated by James Joyce. Morgan was hung up on a relationship he started in India. Lawrence was trying to settle on the perfect place to write. The end of 1922 would see the emergence of Mrs. Dalloway and Jacob’s Room, Eliot’s epic poem, “The Waste Land” would be published in October amid scandal, Lawrence would share his autobiographical Kangaroo, and Forster finds inspiration in the start of A Passage to India.

As an aside, I thoroughly enjoyed certain phrasings Goldstein used throughout his book. To name a few, “emotional slither” and “clawful enthusiasm.” I can only hope the imagery I conjured up as a result of these word pairings is what Goldstein intended.

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