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Bright Young People por D. J. Taylor
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Bright Young People (edição 2010)

por D. J. Taylor (Autor)

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The Bright Young People were one of the most extraordinary youth cults in British history. A pleasure-seeking band of bohemian party-givers and blue-blooded socialites, they romped through the 1920s gossip columns. Evelyn Waugh dramatised their antics in Vile Bodies and many of them, such as Anthony Powell, Nancy Mitford, Cecil Beaton and John Betjeman, later became household names. Their dealings with the media foreshadowed our modern celebrity culture and even today, we can detect their influence in our cultural life. But the quest for pleasure came at a price. Beneath the parties and practical jokes was a tormented generation, brought up in the shadow of war, whose relationships - with their parents and with each other - were prone to fracture. For many, their progress through the 'serious' Thirties, when the age of parties was over and another war hung over the horizon, led only to drink, drugs and disappointment, and in the case of Elizabeth Ponsonby - whose story forms a central strand of this book - to a family torn apart by tragedy. Moving from the Great War to the Blitz, Bright Young People is both a chronicle of England's 'lost generation' of the Jazz Age, and a panoramic portrait of a world that could accommodate both dizzying success and paralysing failure. Drawing on the writings and reminiscences of the Bright Young People themselves, D.J. Taylor has produced an enthralling social and cultural history, a definitive portrait of a vanished age… (mais)
Membro:KateFinney
Título:Bright Young People
Autores:D. J. Taylor (Autor)
Informação:Fsg Adult (2010), Edition: First, 402 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:****
Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

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Bright Young People: The Lost Generation of London's Jazz Age por D. J. Taylor

Adicionado recentemente porbiblioteca privada, samantha_m, KateFinney, helmutbooks, FuschiasRoom, ERRINJ, theidler, MizzyM
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Throughout much of the 1920s, Londoners had a front-row seat to the antics of a small group of socialites about town. These young men and women staged lavish parties, disrupted activities with scavenger hunts and other stunts, and provided fodder for gossip columnists and cartoonists. This group, dubbed the 'Bright Young People,' was fictionalized in novels, recounted in memoirs, and is now the subject of D. J. Taylor's collective history of their group.

An accomplished author, Taylor provides an entertaining account of the group. He describes its members - which included such people as Stephen Tennant, Elizabeth Ponsonby, Brian Howard, Bryan Guinness, and Diana Mitford - and the antics that often attracted so much attention. Yet his scope is also broadened to include people such as Cecil Beaton and Evelyn Waugh, socially on the fringe of the group and yet important figures whose interactions with them prove highly revealing. Through their works and the sometimes obsessive coverage they received on the society pages he reconstructs the relationships and the events that captivated the public's attention.

From all of this emerges a portrait of a phenomenon that was in many ways a unique product of its time. In the aftermath of the demographic devastation of the First World War, the 1920s was a decade that saw the celebration of youth, all of whom grew up in the shadow of a conflict that was the dominant experience of men and women just a few years older than them. The survivors lived in a world where the older generations were discredited and traditional social structures faced increasing economic pressures. In this respect, the Bright Young People represented a garish defiance of the old order and a celebration of life, yet one driven by an undercurrent of sadness and sense of loss.

Taylor's account is infused with both sympathy and insight. At points his narrative degenerates into descriptions of one party after another, when the people threaten to blur into a single generic stereotype, but he succeeds in conveying something of the flavor of the era. From the photos included, the reader can see the fun the young men and women smiling and hamming it up as they pose for the camera, but for what lay behind their expressions readers should turn to this book. ( )
  MacDad | Mar 27, 2020 |
I found this intriguing, entertaining, thought-provoking and generally interesting, even though it's been more than ten years since I read any nonfiction, and I found the general language construction occasionally difficult, and the author's vocabulary a little self-indulgent. Self-indulgence seems an apposite decision when dealing with this topic and these people, though, so I can hardly mark him down for it.

An interesting look at the birth of "just because" modern celebrity - or rather, the metamorphosis from high society to celebrity society. Amazing how things stay the same. ( )
  cupiscent | Aug 3, 2019 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this moving and informative account of the 1920s British band of pleasure-seeking bohemians and blue blooded socialites that comprised the "Bright Young People". D.J. Taylor's fascinating book explores the main events and the key players, throughout the 1920s, 1930s, World War Two and into the post-WW2 era.

I encountering many names that I was already quite familiar with (e.g. Cecil Beaton, Elizabeth Ponsonby, the Jungman sisters, Patrick Balfour, Diana and Nancy Mitford, Brian Howard, Anthony Powell, Evelyn Waugh, Cyril Connolly, Henry Yorke, and many more) having read other excellent accounts of the era. Theses include Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead, The Mitford Girls: The Biography of an Extraordinary Family, The Age of Illusion: England in the Twenties and Thirties, 1919-1940, and The Long Week-end: A Social History of Great Britain, 1918-39.

Elizabeth Ponsonby's story looms large in this book, as D.J. Taylor had access to her parents' diaries. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, she was a staple in the gossip columns who seized upon the Bright Young People's adventures and reported them with a mixture of reverence and glee. There was plenty to report: practical jokes, treasure hunts, fancy dress parties, stealing policemen's helmets, dancing all night at the Ritz and so on. In a sense this is what the 1920s is best remembered for, and for some it must have felt right, after the trauma of World War One, and with Victorian values in decline, for young people to enjoy themselves. However, beneath the laughter and the cocktails lurk some less jolly narratives.

D.J. Taylor manages to dig beneath the glittering surface where for every success story (Evelyn Waugh and Cecil Beaton both launched very successful careers via the opportunities the Bright Young People scene afforded them) there were also tales of failure and tragedy. Some Bright Young People managed to adapt and prosper, others either continued their 1920s lifestyles or were forever trapped by their gilded youths.

Elizabeth Ponsonby provides the ultimate cautionary tale. She made a half-hearted attempt at acting, and later took a short-lived job as a dress-shop assistant, but basically drank to excess, gave parties and practically bankrupted her parents, who fretted helplessly. "It hurts us to see you getting coarse in your speech & outlook in life," her mother wrote to Elizabeth in 1923, suggesting "you ought to enlarge your sphere of enjoyment - not only find happiness in night clubs & London parties & a certain sort of person." This sounds like any parent's out-of-touch lament, but the Ponsonbys had genuine cause for concern. The tone of Vile Bodies captures Elizabeth Ponsonby's routines as glimpsed in her parents' diaries. In Vile Bodies Waugh states the Bright Young People "exhibit naïveté, callousness, insensitivity, insincerity, flippancy, a fundamental lack of seriousness and moral equilibrium that sours every relationship and endeavour they are involved in". A harsh and telling view from an eye-witness,and probably closer to the truth than the more hagiographic accounts of the era.

As I state at the outset, I really enjoyed this book, and despite having read a few similar accounts, I discovered plenty of new information and this has added to my understanding of this endlessly fascinating era. I also found it surprisingly moving - the diary entries by Elizabeth Ponsonby's parents are heartbreaking. Recommended for anyone interested in the era of the "Bright Young People". ( )
  nigeyb | Jan 6, 2014 |
Bright Young People is the story of a particular group of young people who lived in London in the 1920s and ‘30s. Born at around the turn of the century, they were well connected and, for the most part, wealthy. They were known for the outrageous lifestyles they led, holding themed parties until dawn and performing tricks upon each other. The Bright Young People relied largely on the press to publicize their activities, and they included, among others, Nancy and Diana Mitford, Bryan Guinness, Evelyn Waugh, Brian Howard, Brenda Dean Paul, Cecil Beaton, and Elizabeth Ponsonby.

The book is divided into thirteen chapters, with little interludes focusing on specific people or things (on is on all the books Brian Howard never wrote). The book is a bit disorganized; the chapters don’t seem to be arranged in any others, and the interludes, rather than being enlightening, hinder the flow of the book. The book is also a little unfocused; al large part of it is devoted to Elizabeth Ponsonby and her fraught relationship with her parents (chronicled extensively in their diaries). It’s almost as though Taylor meant to write a biography of Elizabeth, realized he didn’t have enough material to write it, and expanded the book to focus on all the Bright Young Things of the period. There’s also a lot about Brenda Dean Paul’s drug addiction and weight loss; but in contrast, there’s not a whole lot about any of the other people of the “movement—“ not even on the Mitfords or Evelyn Waugh. There’s also a dearth of information on the Bright Young Things’ relationships with each other, which was disappointing to me.

There’s also not much on the parties themselves, and the author doesn’t convey much of the fun atmosphere that those Bright young Things had; instead, he seems more focused on analyzing the period and its implications (“not seeing the trees for the forest” syndrome). As a result, the tone of the book tends to be a bit stilted and—dare I say it? dull. There are lots of plot summaries of the novels of Bright Young People (if you haven’t read Highland Fling, A Dance to the Music of Time, or Vile Bodies, here are the cliff notes), and the author tends to rely on these as sources for this book. On the other hand, the book does an excellent job of highlighting the disparity between the generations: the fluidity of the new generation versus the more stolid, late-Victorian generation of their parents. In addition, the book does inspire me to want to read Vile Bodies and Highland Fling... ( )
  Kasthu | Aug 27, 2010 |
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The Bright Young People were one of the most extraordinary youth cults in British history. A pleasure-seeking band of bohemian party-givers and blue-blooded socialites, they romped through the 1920s gossip columns. Evelyn Waugh dramatised their antics in Vile Bodies and many of them, such as Anthony Powell, Nancy Mitford, Cecil Beaton and John Betjeman, later became household names. Their dealings with the media foreshadowed our modern celebrity culture and even today, we can detect their influence in our cultural life. But the quest for pleasure came at a price. Beneath the parties and practical jokes was a tormented generation, brought up in the shadow of war, whose relationships - with their parents and with each other - were prone to fracture. For many, their progress through the 'serious' Thirties, when the age of parties was over and another war hung over the horizon, led only to drink, drugs and disappointment, and in the case of Elizabeth Ponsonby - whose story forms a central strand of this book - to a family torn apart by tragedy. Moving from the Great War to the Blitz, Bright Young People is both a chronicle of England's 'lost generation' of the Jazz Age, and a panoramic portrait of a world that could accommodate both dizzying success and paralysing failure. Drawing on the writings and reminiscences of the Bright Young People themselves, D.J. Taylor has produced an enthralling social and cultural history, a definitive portrait of a vanished age

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