Russell as "Spanish Astronomer" (A Retrospective Review) [review of Constance Malleson, The Coming Back ]

Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies 35 (1):87-94 (2015)
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In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Reviews 87 c:\users\arlene\documents\rj issues\type3501\rj 3501 061 red.docx 2015-07-10 4:07 PM RUSSELL AS “SPANISH ASTRONOMER” (A RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW) Sheila Turcon Russell Research Centre / McMaster U. Hamilton, on, Canada l8s 4l6 [email protected] Constance Malleson. The Coming Back. London: Jonathan Cape, 1933. Pp. 328. 7s. 6d. ublished in 1933 and never reprinted, The Coming Back is Constance Malleson’s first novel. She had been publishing shorter fiction as well as articles since 1919.1 Her lover, Bertrand Russell, had encouraged her writing career, assisting with the placement of her first short story in The English Review.2 He thought a writing career preferable to acting. Using the stage name “Colette O’Niel”, she had a successful career on the stage.3 The novel is a fictional account of the love affair between Russell and Colette.They appear as Gregory del Orellano and Konradin Waring. It was not, however, recognized as a roman à clef when it was published, as their affair was not known by anyone except their closest friends and family members. John Slater recognized it for what it was.4 Three of the four Russell biographers mention the novel.5 Presumably all three relied on Slater’s article. Ronald Clark quotes one sentence from the novel, a summation of Gregory’s character by one of the other characters who shared the view of many. Gregory was seen as “a man exhausting other men by his intellect; exhausting women by his intensity; wearing out his friends, sucking them dry, passing from person to person, never giving any real happiness—or finding any” (Coming Back, p. 307; Clark, p. 583). Caroline Moorehead quotes several sentences about the 1 Turcon, “A Bibliography of Constance Malleson” (2012). 2 Malleson, “The End” by “Christine Harte” (1919). 3 Turcon, op. cit., appendix, acting roles, pp. 188–90. 4 John G. Slater, “Lady Constance Malleson, ‘Colette O’Niel’” (1975), pp. 10–11. 5 Clark, The Life of Bertrand Russell (1975); Moorehead, Bertrand Russell (1992); Monk, Bertrand Russell,Vol. 1 (1996). m= 88 Reviews c:\users\arlene\documents\rj issues\type3501\rj 3501 061 red.docx 2015-07-10 4:07 PM importance of work to Konradin—work that Gregory deplored (Coming Back, p. 105; Moorehead, p. 264). Only Ray Monk undertakes a detailed description of the novel, even naming the last chapter of The Spirit of Solitude, “The Coming Back”. He identifies, as did Slater, several other characters with their real life counterparts: Ottoline Morrell is Magdalena de Santa Segunda; T. C. Maynard is T. S. Eliot; Jevons is Clifford Allen; Marcus Beazley is Maurice Elvey; Gertrude West is Dora Black. He quotes the sentence that Clark had used earlier (Monk 1: 607). Monk writes that “Russell claimed never to have read The Coming Back (or any of Colette’s other books). Perhaps he knew it would make painful reading” (1: 608). Monk provides no source for this judgment, and in fact it is untrue. Although The Coming Back is not specifically discussed in their correspondence, her other three books are.6 My reading of the novel is coloured by an attempt to identify what is true in the novel. My knowledge of the truth is based on editing their correspondence.The novel is a fascinating portrait of the Russell and Colette relationship, far more revealing to those in the know than her autobiographies, where libel concerns were always at the forefront. Her first autobiography, AfterTenYears, had been published two years earlier, in 1931, to great acclaim. The Coming Back’s dust-jacket reads: Here is the first novel from the author of that vivid and successful autobiography, After Ten Years. And as might be expected, it shows the same vitality, integrity, and the same passion for beauty as the earlier work. Constance Malleson presents a portrait of a young girl of our times, and of her stand for freedom, through all its stages from selfishness to a fine renunciation. Before the novel begins Colette includes four things. She dedicates the book to “Joneen when he is grown up”. Colette was very fond of Russell’s son John, and this may well refer to...

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Then and Now: Bertie and Colette's Escapes to the Peak District and Welsh Borderlands.Sheila Turcon - 2014 - Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies 34 (2):117-130.
A Bibliography of Constance Malleson.Sheila Turcon - 2012 - Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies 32 (2):175-190.
The End.Constance Malleson - 2001 - Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies 21:25.
The End.Constance Malleson - 1976 - Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies:25.

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