Bright Young People: The Lost Generation of London’s Jazz Age

D. J. Taylor, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $26 (361p) ISBN 978-0-374-11683-5

Fans of Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies and Decline and Fall will recognize the glittering world of the “Bright Young People”, the London socialites of the 1920s who had their costume parties and other exploits celebrated (and excoriated) in the tabloid media. Taylor, a literary critic and biographer, acknowledges that this crowd—which included Cecil Beaton and Nancy Mitford—were the Britney Spears and Paris Hilton of their day, but doesn’t belabor the point excessively. Taylor’s account is not so much a straightforward history as a bundle of thematic essays arranged chronologically; one chapter, for example, discusses the ways some gay “Brights” were able to avoid much of the repression prevalent throughout British society at the time, while another covers the themes of the fiction that came out of the scene. There are still plenty of juicy anecdotes to go around, although Taylor says that reports of drug-fueled orgies are “exaggerated,” and points out that Britain in the 1920s was a tightly regulated society. The text is enlivened by several Punch cartoons from the period, vividly depicting the hold these rich young partygoers once held on the public’s imagination. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2008
Release date: 01/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 322 pages - 978-0-09-947447-0
Paperback - 361 pages - 978-0-374-53211-6
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4299-5895-0
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4090-2063-9
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