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Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita…
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Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West (original 2014; udgave 2016)

af Matthew Dennison (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
703291,814 (3.55)2
"A dazzling new biography of Vita Sackville-West, the 20th century aristocrat, literary celebrity, devoted wife, famous lover of Virginia Woolf, recluse, and iconoclast who defied categorization. In this stunning new biography of Vita Sackville-West, Matthew Dennison traces the triumph and contradictions of Vita's extraordinary life. His narrative charts a fascinating course from Vita's lonely childhood at Knole, through her affectionate but 'open' marriage to Harold Nicolson (during which both husband and wife energetically pursued homosexual affairs, Vita most famously with Virginia Woolf), and through Vita's literary successes and disappointments, to the famous gardens the couple created at Sissinghurst. The book tells how, from her privileged world of the aristocracy, Sackville-West brought her penchant for costume, play-acting and rebellion to the artistic vanguard of modern Britain. Dennison is the acclaimed author of many books including a biography of Queen Victoria. Here, in the first biography to be written of Vita for thirty years, he reveals the whole story and gets behind 'the beautiful mask' of Vita's public achievements to reveal an often troubled persona which heroically resisted compromise on every level. Drawing on wideranging sources and the extensive letters that sustained her marriage, this is a compelling story of love, loss and jealousy, of high-life and low points, of binding affection and illicit passion - a portrait of an extraordinary, 20th-century life"--… (mere)
Medlem:suzyrez
Titel:Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West
Forfattere:Matthew Dennison (Forfatter)
Info:St. Martin's Griffin (2016), Edition: Reprint, 484 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek, Personal Reading
Vurdering:***1/2
Nøgleord:suzybook, nonfiction, biography, literary biography, library, 2017

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Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West af Matthew Dennison (2014)

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Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West by Matthew Dennison is a well-researched biography the English writer, poet, gardener, and traveller. Dennison is the author of five works of nonfiction. He read English at Christ Church, Oxford, as Douglas Jerrold Scholar, and afterwards the History of Decorative Arts at the University of Glasgow. He is a journalist and regular contributor to a range of publications, including Country Life, The Spectator and Telegraph Magazine; he contributed to ‘Queen Victoria’s Children’ and ‘Royal Cousins at War’ for BBC 2 and ‘The Queen’s Longest Reign’ for BBC1.

I kind of stumbled across Vita Sackville-West while reading Virginia Woolf's diaries and letters. Since then I have read Poems of East and West, Passenger to Teheran, and a few novels. Recently I ordered Portrait of a Marriage written by her son, Nigel Nicholson, which piqued my interest. Behind the Mask is the first biography (or biographical information) I have read that has not been written by a family member or lover, but it does use plenty of first-hand source material.

Vita was a lonely and grubby tomboy growing up and her first close relations were with girls. Her parents were distant and her mother actually ran out. Victoria, Vita's mother, did not enjoy childbirth and refused to have another child. Some of the pain lingered on when she saw her child. Vita fell in love with the Sackville estate which was bittersweet. As a woman, Vita knew she would not inherit the estate. She grew up knowing that the estate was a beautiful dying dream for her.

Vita had many same-sex relationships, but at the time, there was no lesbianism in the social constructs of Britain. Male homosexuality was known and also a crime. Interestingly Vita married Harold Nichols, a homosexual or at least a man with homosexual needs. The two did have a platonic love and were able to hide their affairs behind the marriage. When it came to relationships, Vita was a rock star. Women fell totally in love with her and she was the one who remained cooler. Virginia Woolf was the lone exception.

Behind the Mask also covers the two important aspects of Vita's life writing and later gardening. Vita wrote about what she knew, her life. Direct connections between her life and her writing are brought out in the book. Later in life, she took up gardening at her new estate, Sissinghurst Castle which is part of the National Trust.

Behind the Mask is a detailed look into the personal and professional life of Vita Sackville-West. Reading this book has opened up new connections to writers. Violet Trefusis, a lover of Vita's, wrote Broderie Anglaise and was the stunning Russian Princess Sasha in Woolf's Orlando. This biography helped clarify Orlando as well as Vita's own writing. Also, British writer Ronald Firband satirized Vita in his 1923 novella The Flower Beneath the Foot. Vita is Victoria Gellibore Frinton, the Honourable Mrs. Chillywater. Behind the Mask moves Vita Sackville-West from the footnotes of Virginia Woolf to the forefront. An interesting woman who lead an interesting life redefining marriage, love, and life in a conservative time.


(Read for my own benefit and not for review)

( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
This is a well-researched biography that provides much insight into Vita Sackville-West's event-filled life. Matthew Dennison's portrayal gives a balanced view of this woman who had the power to move many people, men and women, to passion, and yet lived almost solely for herself. The end of her life is sad, but perhaps that is true of many people -- she kept at her writing and gardening, but she had lost much of her verve and many of her friends. ( )
  PatsyMurray | Apr 20, 2018 |
Other than her affair with Virginia Woolf, I knew little about Vita Sackville-West, but I am intrigued by her life and how she lived in many ways out of step with her own era. I definitely need to pick up one of her books at some point and I appreciated learning more about this fascinating woman. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jul 16, 2017 |
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"A dazzling new biography of Vita Sackville-West, the 20th century aristocrat, literary celebrity, devoted wife, famous lover of Virginia Woolf, recluse, and iconoclast who defied categorization. In this stunning new biography of Vita Sackville-West, Matthew Dennison traces the triumph and contradictions of Vita's extraordinary life. His narrative charts a fascinating course from Vita's lonely childhood at Knole, through her affectionate but 'open' marriage to Harold Nicolson (during which both husband and wife energetically pursued homosexual affairs, Vita most famously with Virginia Woolf), and through Vita's literary successes and disappointments, to the famous gardens the couple created at Sissinghurst. The book tells how, from her privileged world of the aristocracy, Sackville-West brought her penchant for costume, play-acting and rebellion to the artistic vanguard of modern Britain. Dennison is the acclaimed author of many books including a biography of Queen Victoria. Here, in the first biography to be written of Vita for thirty years, he reveals the whole story and gets behind 'the beautiful mask' of Vita's public achievements to reveal an often troubled persona which heroically resisted compromise on every level. Drawing on wideranging sources and the extensive letters that sustained her marriage, this is a compelling story of love, loss and jealousy, of high-life and low points, of binding affection and illicit passion - a portrait of an extraordinary, 20th-century life"--

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