Quay construction – Image of the Week

Cashin Quay under construction [ca. 1963]

Cashin Quay under construction

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Wandering the maze

I do love the way one fascinating biography invariably leads to another and another and another. This serendipitous process of stumbling upon a title and then being lead on the literary equivalent of a progressive dance (The Gay Gordons with books, eek!) can be both comforting and daunting.

At the moment I am simultaneously submerged in a biography of mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell and because of her prominence in Bertie’s story, a biography of Lady Ottoline Morrell.

Bertrand Russell’s two volume life has been a serious challenge to my patience, intelligence and sanity. Author Ray Monk has thoroughly researched every aspect of Russell’s long life  and gives equal weight to both Russell’s personal and professional achievements. I’m toiling a bit with the philosophy, and as for Bertie’s personal life, he was such a louse I feel like hurling the book at the wall. If only he hadn’t died in 1970, I could have given him a piece of my mind and a slap on the chops. Ottoline, on the other hand, is a gem: literary patron, loyal friend, bohemian fashionista. Her only flaw, loving Bertie!

The Bloomsbury set, of which both Bertie and Ottie were loosely members have been top-notch reading fodder for many a long year. While their intellectual, literary  and artistic achievements are of course impressive, in keeping with my generally shallow approach, it is the soap opera qualities of their lives than I most relish. Those fearless Bloomsberries shied away from nothing: atheism, extra-marital affairs, unrequited love, illegitimacy, feminism,  suicide, divorce and volatile friendships. Delicious high-brow smut and scandal.

So I am out of the starting gates and off on another literary adventure. After I’ve finished Lady O, I’m thinking about taking a peek at Augustus John‘s tumultuous and frighteningly fertile life, or maybe Gladys Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, or Henry Lamb…..