A War of Individuals: Bloomsbury Attitudes to the Great War by Jonathan Atkin

By Jonathan Atkin

This booklet attracts jointly for the first actual time examples of the ''aesthetic pacifism'' practiced throughout the nice warfare via such celebrated members as Virginia Woolf, Siegfried Sassoon, and Bertrand Russell. moreover, the booklet outlines the tales of these much less famous who shared the mind-set of the Bloomsbury crew and people round them while it got here to dealing with the 1st ''total war.''

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War was simply ‘purposeless horror’, and its effects were likened to the outbreak and spread of a particularly virulent disease bringing untimely death and terror in its wake, he argued. Bell also sought to define what made a nation, and he concluded that a country had ‘no reality’ apart from the individuals comprising it. 70 The ethics of jingoistic patriotism were incompatible with civilised values, a theme that he later explored further in his Civilization (1928), in which the concept of civilisation was defined as a sense of values combined with reason providing a setting where, ‘the intellect must be free to deal as it pleases with whatever comes its way, it must be free to choose its own terms, phrases and images, and to play with all things what tricks it will’.

This was soon followed by the Russian Revolution and eventual withdrawal of that nation from the conflict. However, peace did not come as expected, and Keynes’ pessimism took over once more and, ‘reached its peak at the end of 1917 and continued until the end of the war’,34 spilling over into his account of the peace negotiations contained within The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919). As he wrote to his mother in April 1918: Politics and war are just as depressing or even more so than they seem to be.

28 One of his biographers has pointed out: Keynes’ life was balanced between two sets of moral claims. His duty as an individual was to achieve good states of mind for himself and for those he was directly concerned with; his duty as a citizen was to help achieve a happy state of affairs for society. The two claims he thought of as logically independent of each other. 29 At no time was this more true than when embodied in his response to the public and personal claims to the Great War. Keynes became increasingly busy at the Treasury throughout the war, causing his friends, and in particular Virginia Woolf, to worry that he would be ‘lost’ to humanity.

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