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A War of IndividualsBloomsbury Attitudes to the Great War$
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Jonathan Atkin

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780719060700

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719060700.001.0001

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Writers at war

Writers at war

(p.77) 4 Writers at war
A War of Individuals

Jonathan Atkin

Manchester University Press

Bertrand Russell was just one man largely thinking and acting alone – and therein rests his reputation. But to what extent – whether in private or public – did similar anti-war concerns to those of Russell and the Bloomsbury Group express themselves among the intelligentsia? In common with Russell, E. M. Forster believed the Great War to be partly due to misdirected destructive energies; forces that could be channelled during times of peace into creative efforts. In his letter to Siegfried Sassoon, he explained that his other hope for the future, though ‘very faint’, was for a League of Nations. This was a hope that Forster shared with both his frequent correspondent Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson and with other intellectuals such as the writer and ruralist Edward Carpenter. The emotional response of Carpenter and Dickinson to the war was matched by that of Henry James. In contrast with James, the dry, precise tone of George Bernard Shaw provided perhaps the most prominent intellectual commentary of his time on the war's ebb and flow.

Keywords:   Bertrand Russell, Great War, Bloomsbury Group, intelligentsia, E. M. Forster, Siegfried Sassoon, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, Edward Carpenter, Henry James, George Bernard Shaw

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