Best of 2017 —The Haute Bourgeoisie Unfurls the Twentieth Century: Sydney and Violet entertain T. S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley, & Proust, Joyce, Picasso, Stravinsky, & Diaghilev; part 1

Dec 28, 2017, 05:39 AM

Photo: Marcel Proust (seated), Robert de Flers (left) and Lucien Daudet (right), ca. 1894.

Proust, Joyce, Picasso, Stravinsky, and Diaghilev dined together at the Majestic Hotel in Paris. ‘Twas May 18, 1922; Sydney and Violet Schiff were their hosts. Although we missed the meal, it and countless other adventures are detailed in this book widely called “delightful,” "Sydney and Violet," by Stephen Klaidman.

"Sydney and Violet: A Modernist Power Couple and Their Life with Eliot, Proust, Joyce, Huxley, Mansfield, Picasso and the Excruciatingly Irascible Wyndham Lewis," is a biography of the power couple who nurtured and influenced the literary world of early Twentieth-Century England; it offers an intimate look at their dazzling circle.

Sydney and Violet Schiff were ubiquitous, Zelig-like figures in the most important literary movement of the century. Sydney was an admired writer and Violet was a talented musician who was among the first in England to recognize Proust’s genius; their friendships among the elite of the Modernist writers were remarkable and extensive. Stephen Klaidman tells the story of how the Schiffs, despite their commercial and Jewish origins, won a central place in the snobbish, anti-Semitic, literary world of the time. A colorful, highly personal account of the Modernist movement, "Sydney and Violet" brings to life a panoply of extravagant personalities, in effect the cornerstones of contemporary Western culture,