Friday, November 25, 2011

Leonard Woolf (November 25, 1880)

From a review of a biography of Leonard Woolf by Victoria Glendinning in the Guardian:
"The centre of the mystery is why Virginia Stephen, who shared the conventional, mild anti-semitism of pre-Great War, upper-middle-class England, married 'a penniless Jew' who looked like an Old Testament prophet. ...

"There is a good deal to be learnt about multiculturalism from examining Woolf's early life, for the Woolfs were assimilated to the extent that his father was a QC and Leonard was educated at St Paul's and Trinity, Cambridge, where he was elected to the Apostles, the secret society then in its golden age, including as members GE Moore, Bertrand Russell, Lytton Strachey and John Maynard Keynes.

"Though part of the English establishment, Leonard maintained a relatively uncomplicated Jewish identity (perhaps by refusing to take personally anti-semitic remarks made by TS Eliot, Harold Nicolson and his wife). This had nothing to do with the religion of his fathers, for he was, like his fellow Apostles, a militant atheist. His grandfather, Benjamin, had already discarded Orthodoxy in favour of the Reform movement and joined a Mayfair synagogue."

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