REVIEW µ Bright Young People The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918 1940


Bright Young People The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918 1940The Bright Young People were one of the extraordinary youth cults in British history A pleasure seeking b. A good overview of the Worst Generation aka the Bright Young People of the 20s and 30s These were pretty much all absolutely awful posers and showoffs who needed a slap but fortunately the author knows this Highly readable with lots of useful refs for further reading and a specific chapter on homosexuality in the BYTs20s

REVIEW Bright Young People The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918 1940

REVIEW µ Bright Young People The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918 1940 ¸ The Bright Young People were one of the 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 But the uest for pleasure caAnd of bohemian party givers and blue blooded socialites they romped through the 1920s gossip columns But. I had very little interest in reading this book and it took me awhile to get hooked by it but I do recommend it flawed though it is It seems every era of prosperity has its brat pack of flibbertigibbit young people with too much time on their hands too much cleverness and not enough enduring talent It’s called I’m tempted to say life The Bright Young People hereafter referred to as BYP were a group of aristocratic andor well heeled young people and their hangers on who started doing outrageous things within the confines of a tightly defined social milieu that pretty much characterizes England during just about any time in history after the Romans left c 410 AD Perhaps globalization has put the kibosh on such localized youth phenomenon – was the last outbreak in England was Carnaby Street in the Swingin’ Sixties Or whatever street that was I can never keep this straight But in the 1920s the BYP were echt English with the exception of a few of them who wound up becoming Nazis and to some extent held the attention of the world or at least the English tabloids Affluent young people doing silly stuff Paris Hilton comes to mind as she should; she’d be good at being a BYP and I mean this as a compliment – BYP status involved a great deal of hard work shrewd friend and enemy picking and constant image burnishing Still who cares Such gorgeous waifs add nothing to the culture nothing to the economy except spending lots in the frou frou market Well when it comes to the BYP of the 1920s Evelyn Waugh is part of the pack and Cyril Connolly and Anthony Powell some attention should be paid So I slogged on and found the book to have been well worth the effort But it could have been a much better bookFirst off Taylor couldn’t make up his mind what kind of book he wanted this to be and in the process missed an opportunity to write something that could’ve been great Things start out with a pretty clinical sociological cultural account of the era with lots of snooty contemporary “Punch” cartoons This is why it took my 4 months to read this thing because I found this opening stuff competent but rather underwhelming and again my lack of interest in the subject contributed to my lack of enthusiasm To be honest except for Waugh and the other literary lights I had trouble keeping the names straight But the true heart of the story came to my attention about halfway through when I noticed increasing references to elderly MP and diarist Arthur Ponsonby and his wife Dorothea and his alcoholic trainwreck BYP daughter Elizabeth and the man she was briefly married Denis Pelly This story was the heart of the book and gave it a heft that all those tabloid accounts of ridiculous theme parties couldn’t provide Astonishingly here is Taylor in the opening of his “Notes and Further Reading” section found at the back of the book after it was far too late to matter“The primary source for this book has been the mass of papers accumulated by the Ponsonby family These include the extensive diaries kept by Arthur and Dorothea letters sent to them by Elizabeth and the documents and other artifacts discovered in Elizabeth’s flat after her death” p 329So if this stuff was the primary source make the Ponsonby’s the hear

D.J. Taylor Á 1 REVIEW

The uest for pleasure came at a price This work talks about of England's 'lost generation' of the Jazz A. As someone who has always described myself as an old soul I have a natural predisposition to understanding and appreciating the past Though I recognize the implications and naiveté of such a wish not a day goes by that I still don't pine yearn and frankly tingle at the mere thought of being a young woman alive sometime during the first half of the twentieth century In my opinion those first fifty years garnered far snazzier fashions thought provoking art and interesting people than just about anything in the latter halfIn order to get my history fix I often watch movies from the silent era and golden age of Hollywood Bette Davis Bette Davis Bette Davis incorporate certain classic elements into my wardrobe and make up choices eg fishnet stockings loose fitting tops with belts wedged heels and constantly read about the people places and things of the various decades My latest conuest in the last department is a book called Bright Young People The Lost Generation of London's Jazz Age which is a thorough recreation and examination of the life and times of the budding British elite in the roaring '20s The author DJ Taylor not only provided my fix with his wonderful investigative work but he also supplied me with the inspiration to find out even about the people he traces to read some of the books they wrote and to finally get my hair wavedThe Bright Young People were a large group of London’s rich and famous young men and women They’ve been immortalized in literature Evelyn Waugh being the most prominent author of the period in movies Bright Young Things and in various other types of art In many ways they’re immortal beings which is odd considering they only existed for such a short time span in history For ten or so years they ruled the celebrity roost with their charming antics extravagant parties and bohemian sensibilities Gin and tonic bath and bottle parties and lighthearted feelings were all the rage with this brood In the end though their hedonism and the prospect and eventuality of war in later years stopped their frolicking and merriment A number of the Bright Young People failed to escape their hunger for extravagance and succumbed to the effects of alcohol and drugs Others went to war and perished Some retired their dancing slippers and hunkered down to a normal life Many vanished into thin air Taylor artfully traces the origins of the Bright Young People with the same effervescent touch the people themselves possess His language is sassy sweet and intelligent Though he covers a lot of ground in the roughly twenty years the text never feels heavy or meandering Instead it sucks you in like a great novel or a great piece of gossip Bright Young People will make you laugh while learning about a group of carefree individuals who at one point or another actually lived the life many of us dream of living Review by Sara Freeman