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Carrington: A Life


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A peripheral member of Bloomsbury, Carrington was a painter who did not produce many works, exhibited little, and remained dissatisfied with her abilities. Her artistic reputation, in fact, has been subsumed by her tortured love for critic Lytton Strachey and several other prominent figures of the time. This biography attempts to sort out facts and fictions about a woman who defied conventions only to destroy herself through failed passions. It discusses the artist's career briefly but intelligently, from her enrollment at the Slade School of Fine Art to her work in decorative art near the end of her life. But the real task is to unravel the complicated strands of Carrington's relationships, which are reappraised through examination of letters, diaries, sketches, and literary appropriations. Of interest to general and academic readers, but with so little literature about her, Carrington's art and inspirations require further investigation.-- Paula A. Baxter, NYPL

Gerzina's biography--the first to consider Carrington at length--is an engrossing and well-researched account of the British painter and her era. Carrington was 17 in 1910 when she left her home in provincial Bedford to study in London and, a few years later, she began a longstanding association with the Bloomsbury group. Though seemingly a free spirit, she was fundamentally asexual, making seductive overtures to men yet refusing to make love with them; she clung to these platonic relationships throughout her short life. In her 30s, she engaged in two lesbian love affairs but committed herself emotionally to homosexual Lytton Strachey, living with him from 1916 onward. When the author died of cancer in 1932, she committed suicide. Gerzina, who teaches at Skidmore College, offers a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on the Bloomsburyans. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)

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