This article is about the book by Cyril Connolly. First edition publ. It comprises a collection of aphorisms, quotes, nostalgic musings and mental explorations. Connolly uses the theme to explore his feelings and review his situation as he approaches the age of forty presenting a very pessimistic and self-deprecating account. Into this he brings quotes from some of his favourite authors: Pascal , De Quincey , Chamfort and Flaubert as well as snatches from the Buddha, Chinese philosophy and Freud.
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He was a favourite of the formidable Mrs Wilkes but was later to criticise the "character-building" ethos of the school. He wrote, "Orwell proved to me that there existed an alternative to character, Intelligence. Beaton showed me another, Sensibility.
Eton[ edit ] At Eton, after a traumatic first few terms, he settled into a comfortable routine. He won over his early tormentor Godfrey Meynell and became a popular wit.
At Eton, Connolly was involved in romantic intrigues and school politics, which he described in Enemies of Promise. By this time his parents were living separate lives, his mother having established a relationship with another army officer and his father becoming an increasingly heavy drinker and absorbed in his study of slugs and snails. In , Connolly achieved academic success winning the Rosebery History Prize, and followed this up with the Brackenbury History scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford.
Returning moneyless, he spent the night in a kip at St Martins, London. In his last term at Eton, he was elected to Pop , which brought him into contact with others he respected, including Nico Davies , Teddy Jessel and Lord Dunglass. Connolly was for years afterwards nostalgic about his time at Eton. In January , he went with Urquhart and other collegers to Italy. On his return, he visited his father, now in a hotel in South Kensington, close to the Natural History Museum.
At the end of the year, he went to Italy and Tunis. He spent Christmas with his parents in a rare get-together at the Lock House in Hampshire and at the beginning of , he went with the college group to Minehead with Urquhart. In spring he was back in Spain, before returning to Oxford to take his final exams. He struggled to find employment, while his friends and family sought to pay off his extensive debts. He obtained a post tutoring a boy in Jamaica and set sail for the Caribbean in November He returned to England in April on a banana boat in the company of Alwyn Williams , headmaster of Winchester College.
He enrolled as a special constable in the General Strike ,  but it was over before he was actively involved. He responded to an advertisement to work as a secretary for Montague Summers but was warned off by his friends. Pearsall Smith was to give Connolly an important introduction to literary life, and he influenced his ideas on the role of a writer with a distaste for journalism. MacCarthy invited Connolly to write book reviews for the New Statesman.
Later that year, Connolly made a trip to Budapest and Eastern Europe and then spent the winter of — in London. In July he set off to Normandy with his mother and then for his last stay at the chalet in the Alps. In August , he was invited to become a regular reviewer and joined the staff of the New Statesman. He was working on various works that never saw the light of day: a novel Green Endings, a travel book on Spain, his diary and A Partial Guide to the Balkans.
He approached Cecil Beaton to draw the cover design for the last and he received an advance for the work although it was eventually lost. However, he started contributing pieces to various publications that appeared under his own name and various pseudonyms. At this time he developed a fascination with low life and prostitution and spent time in the poorer parts of London seeking them out while other contemporaries were seeking out tramps. At the same time, he had developed an infatuation with Alix Kilroy whom he had met on a train back from the continent and used to wait outside her office for a sight of her.
However, their father Admiral Fisher wanted them to have nothing to do with a penniless writer and, in February , forbade further contact. However, he was ill at ease and in April set off for Paris , where he met Pearsall Smith and Cecil Beaton and visited brothels posing as a journalist. He went on to Italy, where he stayed with Berenson and Mrs Keppel where he was taken with her daughter Violet Trefusis. Connolly returned to Paris in May, borrowing money off Pearsall Smith so he could live cheaply in the rue Delambre.
In August Connolly set off on his travels again to Germany, this time with Bobbie Longden and Raymond Mortimer and the experience gave rise to the essay "Conversations in Berlin" which MacCarthy published in his new magazine Life and Letters. Connolly travelled separately to Villefranche and spent five weeks in Barcelona with Longden before returning to London.
He spent Christmas at Sledmere with the Sykes family. After a while, he was drawn to Paris again and, through Jean and Mara, became acquainted with the bohemian Montparnasse set, including Alfred Perles and Gregor Michonze who was to become the basis for Rascasse in The Rock Pool.
Connolly and Bakewell went to Spain together where they met up with Peter Quennell. Bakewell had returned to America in the summer and was planning to return to Paris in the autumn to start a course at the Sorbonne.
She had agreed before her departure to marry Connolly and Connolly established himself in Paris in September. They spent most of the rest of the year in Paris, and started their collection of pets, first ferrets and then lemurs.
Connolly spent Christmas again at Sledmere. They married in New York on 5 April Jean Bakewell "was to prove one of the more liberating forces in his life An attractive personality: warm, generous, witty and approachable There their close neighbours were Edith Wharton and Aldous Huxley.
Although Connolly admired Huxley, the two men failed to establish a rapport, and the wives fell out. In November, they found a flat near Belgrave Square , and Connolly made his first contribution to the New Statesman in two years. Connolly was also approached by John Betjeman of the Architectural Review to act as an art critic. There, he would meet Evelyn Waugh , who delighted in teasing Connolly.
The Connollys enjoyed being part of a sophisticated literary social scene in London, but towards the end of the year, Jean had to undergo a gynaecological operation. As a result, she could not have a child, and it was hard for her to control her weight. The Connollys then went with Howard and his boyfriend to Spain and the Algarve.
After a row in a bar, they were incarcerated in a police cell and were sent back to England with the help of the British Embassy. In June, encouraged by Enid Bagnold , they rented a house at Rottingdean. Writing to Bagnold from Cannes in September, Jean complained that their cheques were being bounced and she asked Bagnold to appeal to her husband Sir Roderick Jones of Reuters for help in work. That was dismissed, and in November, the letting agents for the Rottingdean property wrote an appalling report on the state in which the Connollys had left the place.
Elizabeth Bowen arranged a dinner with Virginia Woolf and her husband when Connolly and Virginia Woolf took an instant dislike to each other. During the year, the Connollys went to Mallow and Cork in Ireland. At the end of the year. In Paris, Connolly spent some time with Jack Kahane , the avant garde publisher, and Henry Miller , with whom he established a strong rapport after an initial unsuccessful meeting.
Only The Rock Pool was completed, the others remaining only as fragments. It was initially accepted by a London publishing house but it changed its mind. Faber and Faber was one of the publishers that rejected it and so Connolly took it to Jack Kahane, who published it in Paris in In it he attempted to explain his failure to produce the literary masterpiece that he and others believed that he should have been capable of writing. Horizon[ edit ] In , Connolly founded the influential literary magazine Horizon , with Peter Watson , its financial backer and de facto art editor.
He edited Horizon until , with Stephen Spender as an uncredited associate editor until early He was briefly — the literary editor for The Observer until a disagreement with David Astor.
From until his death, he was joint chief book reviewer with Raymond Mortimer for The Sunday Times. It later appeared in Previous Convictions. Personal life[ edit ] Connolly was married three times. His first wife Jean Bakewell — left him in , moving back to the United States. She later became the wife of Laurence Vail former husband of Peggy Guggenheim and Kay Boyle but, following years of health problems, she died of a stroke while on a trip to Paris at the age of Connolly married his second wife, Barbara Skelton , in His third wife, whom he married in , was Deirdre Craven, a granddaughter of James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon , by whom he had two children later in life.
In , Connolly settled in Eastbourne, to the amusement of Beaton, who suggested he was lured back by the cakes they had enjoyed in school outings to the town. Never will I make that extra effort to live according to reality which alone makes good writing possible: hence the manic-depressiveness of my style,—which is either bright, cruel and superficial; or pessimistic; moth-eaten with self-pity.
Despite being corrected, the backing vocalists then sing "Cyril Connolly" to the melody of the song. MacLaren-Ross repeated many of the descriptions verbatim in his later memoir of Connolly. Connolly is quoted as saying "Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self" in Season 5, Episode 7 of Criminal Minds.
The principal character, eighteen-year-old Briony Tallis, sends the draft of a novella she has written to Horizon magazine and Cyril Connolly is shown as replying at length as to why the novella had to be rejected, apart from explaining to Briony her strong and weak points and also mentioning Elizabeth Bowen. Cyril Connolly, who was notorious for being a hard guest to please
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He was a favourite of the formidable Mrs Wilkes but was later to criticise the "character-building" ethos of the school. He wrote, "Orwell proved to me that there existed an alternative to character, Intelligence. Beaton showed me another, Sensibility. Eton[ edit ] At Eton, after a traumatic first few terms, he settled into a comfortable routine. He won over his early tormentor Godfrey Meynell and became a popular wit. At Eton, Connolly was involved in romantic intrigues and school politics, which he described in Enemies of Promise.