cover image Bertrand Russell: 2a Life

Bertrand Russell: 2a Life

Caroline Moorehead. Viking Books, $30 (608pp) ISBN 978-0-670-85008-2

In this brilliant, highly entertaining biography, the most intimate portrait of Russell (1872-1970) to date, Moorehead ( Freya Stark ) gives full play to the contradictory strains of the austere philosopher, passionate romantic, indignant moralist, free-love advocate, socialist proselytizer and implacable foe of the Soviet Union. While not neglecting Russell's achievements as prophet of liberal humanism, mathematician, pacifist, educational reformer, advocate of world government and antinuclear activist, Moorehead is especially strong in exploring his traumatic childhood (both parents died before his fourth birthday), his four marriages and many affairs, and his friendships or entanglements with D. H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad, Katherine Mansfield, T. S. Eliot and many others. We meet a man who, time and again, ruthlessly severed himself from his past and from those he once loved, an ``old-fashioned liberal at heart'' whose radical stances often made him a force for progressive change. Photos. (Oct.)