Arnold Bennett

Arnold Bennett

Arnold Bennett

Arnold Bennett

Excerpt

During the ten years that ended with his death on March 27, 1931, Arnold Bennett occupied a position in English life unique among English men of letters. He was a public figure in a way that no other English writer has been before or since. It was not that he was ever regarded as the greatest living English writer; while Conrad and Hardy were alive that would have been impossible, and after their deaths there were still Shaw and Wells to overshadow, if not to out-top him. It was not so much that he was regarded as a great man. Rather his role was akin to that of a brains-trust philosopher; and he could always be quoted and cartooned. He was, in other words, a character; he was news; he lived always in the fierce limelight of the public gaze; and he was never abashed. He was the grand panjandrum of the Evening Standard , making best-sellers and rebuking Mrs. Virginia Woolf at a hundred pounds per thousand words. He was the popular oracle of the Press, giving his millions of readers the lowdown on religion and Relativity ("I may say that I disagree with Einstein's theory of curved space. There cannot, to my simple mind, be curved space. I also disagree with him when he says that there is no such thing as universal cosmic time.") He was the familiar figure at first nights, championship fights, society dinner dances; the connoisseur of the glittering and the expensive, of great hotels and shining yachts. He was the friend of eminent men as diverse as . . .

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