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Testament of Friendship (1940)

de Vera Brittain

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Sèrie: Vera Brittain's Testament (2)

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In this book, Vera Brittain tells of the woman who helped her survive the First World War - the writer Winifred Holtby. They met at Oxford immediately after the war and their friendship continued through Vera's marriage and their separate but parallel writing careers, until Winifred's death at 37.
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    Testament of Youth de Vera Brittain (jigarpatel)
    jigarpatel: Testament of Youth is almost required reading for Testament of Friendship. The former a memoir of Vera Brittain, the latter a biography of her closest friend Winifred Holtby. Although focusing on individuals and their relationships, they also powerfully describe the "state of the times". In particular, causes such as feminism, pacifism and racial equality are brought to life through the experiences of the protagonists.… (més)
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Testament of Friendship, nominally a sequel to Brittain's rightly acclaimed memoir Testament of Youth, is a biography of Brittain's closest friend. I was motivated to read it by the moving Youth, rather than by any deep knowledge of Holtby's life or works. I found a yellowing copy in Shoe Lane Library, London, and was pleasantly surprised. Many authors are remembered by their works while their motivations are relegated to a foreword. Brittain describes a selfless soul, and expresses remorse for having been one among many who presented distractions from the literary projects Holtby loved so dearly.

Relationships, as in Youth, are at the heart of Friendship. And so is the accompanying heartbreak. Holtby's vicarious ability to feel the pain of others is epitomised by her sorrow at the death of Brittain's brother Edward. Away from war, we inhabit a world where appendicitis, pneumonia and childbirth are liable to cut short lives in their mid-thirties. We are left to reconcile Holtby's success with her attachment to a childhood love who, due either to the mental anguish derived from the Great War or an inconstant temper, fails to live up to the conventional standards of a suitor.

The political situation between the two wars is briefly discussed. While Youth focuses on the link between feminism and pacifism, Friendship establishes a link between misogyny and racism. Promoting equal rights for the black population in South Africa is a long-term project for Holtby, one for which she makes many sacrifices. Thrifty in her own habits, she is generous with her time and money. She seeks advances on her literary works to fund her causes, for which she also devotes time through her travels, lectures and journalism.

Of course, there is an element of bias in a biography of one's best friend, but the primary material, spanning correspondence, publications and first-hand reports, lends some credence to the picture painted by Brittain. Characteristically, Holtby hides knowledge of her imminent demise from her closest friends. Her ambitious final novel, South Riding, was published six months after her death at 37 from Bright's disease. It is next on my reading list. ( )
  jigarpatel | Nov 28, 2019 |
A very interesting development of the writer Winifred Holtby's life and times. ( )
  annejacinta | May 28, 2014 |
Testament of Friendship is a work of love, Vera Brittain's witness to the life of Winifred Holtby, the most important person in her life. The two met at Oxford after each had served her time in WWI. They lived together (platonically, we are assured) for most of the rest of WH's life even after VB married and had children. Briefly, WH divided her time between her desire to make an impact on poverty, for peace, and for better race relations and her desire to be a writer of lasting fiction. Her death at 37 of a kidney disease cut short a life of achievement in both areas.
VB is able to give a novelist's appreciation of WH's literary work and a friend's respect for her selfless devotion to the various causes and people who demanded her time and attention. Other critics have deplored the proportion of time that she spent away from her craft, but VB shows us a life well-lived. We see WH at Oxford, brilliant and struggling to learn to spell and organize her writing. We see WH in South Africa learning the desperation of black Africans as they fought to establish trade unions, balanced with the complacency and fear of their white countrymen. We see WH returned to England and enjoying her growing powers as a journalist and novelist. We see WH dealing with the aftermath of war in her childhood friend whom she loved but never married. We see the friend who was willing to drop her own work to minister to her family or her friends.
If I have a quarrel with the book, it is that VB writes prepositionally. We read "about" WH and what she was "like." Rarely, and almost always in her own words, we see the living woman spring from the page - warm, vital, humorous, sarcastic. I appreciate what VB accomplished and wish that she had been able to accomplish even more. This book is well worth the time of anybody who wants a look at women in England between the world wars or of anybody who loves the novels of Winifred Holtby. ( )
10 vota LizzieD | Jan 23, 2011 |
2157 Testament of Friendship: The Story of Winifred Holtby, by Vera Brittain (read 14 Aug 1988) The blurb for this book says "Continuing the story begun in Testament of Youth" but, even though I have not [yet] read Testament of Youth, I think the blurb is false. This book tells much about Winifred Holtby, who died in October of 1935 and was a great friend of Vera Brittain--who died in 1970. Holtby wrote South Riding, which I doubt is as good as Vera Brittain says. I did not enjoy this book too much, since Winifred Holtby had never been heard of by me before. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jul 8, 2008 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Vera Brittainautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Delmar, RosalindEpílegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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In this book, Vera Brittain tells of the woman who helped her survive the First World War - the writer Winifred Holtby. They met at Oxford immediately after the war and their friendship continued through Vera's marriage and their separate but parallel writing careers, until Winifred's death at 37.

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