Sydney and Violet by Stephen Klaidman
Their Life with T.S. Eliot, Proust, Joyce and the Excruciatingly Irascible Wyndham Lewis

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Nevertheless he has done us a service by rescuing Sydney and Violet Schiff from the obscurity to which the passage of the years has consigned them...anyone interested in the London literary world of the first half of the 20th century will find much to enjoy here, and something to learn also.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

A long overdue biography of the power couple that nurtured and influenced the literary world of early twentieth-century England

"I write primarily to pay homage to a beloved friend, but also in the hope that some future chronicler of the history of art and letters in our time may give to Sydney and Violet Schiff the place which is their due."
—T. S. Eliot, in a letter appended to Violet Schiff's obituary, Times of London, July 9, 1962

Largely forgotten today, Sydney and Violet Schiff were ubiquitous, almost Zelig-like figures in the most important literary movement of the twentieth century. Their friendships among the elite of the Modernist writers were remarkable, and their extensive correspondence with T. S. Eliot, Katherine Mansfield, Proust, and many others strongly suggests both intimacy and intellectual equality. Leading critics of the day considered Sydney, writing as Stephen Hudson, to be in the same literary league as Joyce, Eliot, and D. H. Lawrence. As for Violet, she was a talented musician who nurtured Sydney's literary efforts and was among the first in England to recognize Proust's genius and spread the word. Sydney and Violet tells the story of how the Schiffs, despite their commercial and Jewish origins, won acceptance in the snobbish, anti-Semitic, literary world of early twentieth-century England, and brings to life a full panoply of extravagant personalities: Proust, Joyce, Picasso, Mansfield, Wyndham Lewis, T. S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley, and many more. A highly personal, anecdote-filled account of the social and intellectual history of the Modernist movement, Sydney and Violet also examines what divides the literary survivors from the victims of taste and time.
 

About Stephen Klaidman

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STEPHEN KLAIDMAN was an editor and reporter for twenty-three years at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the International Herald Tribune. He has also taught widely at institutions such as Georgetown University's Law Center and its School of Foreign Service, Johns Hopkins University's School of Public Health, and Pennsylvania State University. For ten years he also worked at Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute of Ethics and Institute for Health Policy Analysis.







Author Residence: Bethesda, MD
 
Published September 3, 2013 by Anchor. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Sydney and Violet
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Jul 30 2013

An engaging account of an author and his editor wife who may be obscure even to critics of modernist literature...An enjoyable extended footnote to the lives of the better known.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Jun 24 2013

In this delightful book, which draws on extensive private correspondence, interviews, and personal friendship, journalist and editor Klaidman (Coronary: A True Story of Medicine Gone Awry) invites us to share the Schiffs’s privileged view...

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WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Allan Massie on Nov 15 2013

Nevertheless he has done us a service by rescuing Sydney and Violet Schiff from the obscurity to which the passage of the years has consigned them...anyone interested in the London literary world of the first half of the 20th century will find much to enjoy here, and something to learn also.

Read Full Review of Sydney and Violet: Their Life... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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