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The World Broke in Two: Bill Goldstein with Margo Jefferson


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The founder of the New York Times books website charts the intersecting lives of Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, and E. M. Forster in 1922, the year that modernism was born.

At the beginning of 1922, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, and E. M. Forster were literally at a loss for words. Despite them all having already met with past success, an uncertain future lay ahead, the shaky ground having been paved by the publications of James Joyce’s Ulysses and the English translation of Marcel Proust’s Swann's Way, the first volume of In Search of Lost Time. But by the end of the year, Woolf had begun writing Mrs. Dalloway, Forster had picked up work on A Passage to India for the first time in a decade, Lawrence had written the underappreciated Kangaroo, and Eliot had finished—and published to acclaim—“The Waste Land.”

Willa Cather wrote that “The world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts.” What Woolf, Eliot, Lawrence, and Forster were struggling with in that turbulent period was the invention of modernism.

Bill Goldstein researched much of his revelatory narrative at The New York Public Library, which houses unparalleled collections of papers relating to Eliot, Forster, Lawrence, and Woolf. He will speak about his book and the research that went into it with Margo Jefferson, author of the acclaimed memoir Negroland.