Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke

Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke

Paul Delany

Language: English

Pages: 380

ISBN: 0773545573

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Rupert Brooke (b. 1887) died on April 23, 1915, two days before the start of the Battle of Gallipoli, and three weeks after his poem "The Soldier" was read from the pulpit of St Paul's Cathedral on Easter Sunday. Thus began the myth of a man whose poetry crystallizes the sentiments that drove so many to enlist and assured those who remained in England that their beloved sons had been absolved of their sins and made perfect by going to war. In Fatal Glamour, Paul Delany details the person behind the myth to show that Brooke was a conflicted, but magnetic figure. Strikingly beautiful and able to fascinate almost everyone who saw him - from Winston Churchill to Henry James - Brooke was sexually ambivalent and emotionally erratic. He had a series of turbulent affairs with women, but also a hidden gay life. He was attracted by the Fabian Society’s socialist idealism and Neo-Pagan innocence, but could be by turns nasty, misogynistic, and anti-Semitic. Brooke’s emotional troubles were acutely personal and also acutely typical of Edwardian young men formed by the public school system. Delany finds a thread of consistency in the character of someone who was so well able to move others, but so unable to know or to accept himself. A revealing biography of a singular personality, Fatal Glamour also uses Brooke’s life to shed light on why the First World War began and how it unfolded.

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many young men of his class, along with the related idea of war as an antidote to the greed and anomie of commercial society. Rupert’s beliefs about the positive value of war were distilled into poetry later in the year, after he had a taste of combat in the Antwerp expedition. His first plan in August was to become a war correspondent, but he soon decided to enlist as soon as he could find a regiment. His service with the Rugby OTC guaranteed that he could enter the Army with a commission. Not

1910, BL. 24 L. Strachey, Letters, 227. Lytton continued his assessment of Noel with: “A great fish-wife’s mouth, which it might be nice to ram one’s prick into . . . mais enfin – I could hardly be interested.” 25 Holroyd, Lytton Strachey, 547; James Strachey to Lytton Strachey, 12 Sept. 1910, BL. 26 Holroyd, Lytton Strachey, 466. 27 Hale, Friends and Apostles, 180. 28 Woolf, Carlyle’s House, 8. 29 Michael Hastings, conversation with the author, citing Noel Olivier as source, 1984. 30

was an eager socialist and member of the Fellowship of the New Life – the utopian society from which the Fabian Society was born. After only two years at Fettes, Reddie moved on to Clifton College, another satellite of Rugby. Here, he lasted only a year. He could not take orders from a superior and he loudly disagreed with every existing plan of education, especially in the public schools: Listen to the four maxims of a great English school perpetually dinned into the boy’s ears. Be industrious;

version of his Comus costume – Rupert left for his third Christmas in Switzerland, this time at Lenzerheide. Margery Olivier organised the party; she included Daphne but not Noel or Bryn. Ka and Justin begged off also, though Jacques came, to make up for his awkward exit at Andermatt. Rupert blamed Noel for failing to appear. He was in rather a surly mood for the holiday and, as it turned out, there would be no more Christmases in Switzerland for the Neo-pagans. Four months after the plan for

up”? And was he using Noel’s unattainability as an excuse to avoid following his friends into marriage and maturity? If so, an obvious cure was at hand. For three years he had kept up both his soulful love of Noel and his twilight affairs with Denham, Elisabeth, or Ka. Why not combine soul and sense at last, by turning wholeheartedly to Ka? After his nervous breakdown, he blamed himself to Ka for failing to make that, or any other choice, during 1911: For a year you loved me, and I loved Noel

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