The Marmoset of Bloomsbury
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The Marmoset of Bloomsbury

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  73 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In the summer of 1934, "a sickly pathetic marmoset" called Mitz came into the care of Leonard Woolf. He nursed her back to health and from then on was rarely seen without her on his shoulder. A "ubiquitous" presence in Bloomsbury society. Mitz moved with the Woolfs between their London flat and their cottage in Sussex. She developed her own special relationships with the W...more
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Published December 1st 1998 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1998)
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The fictionalized biography of Mitz, a marmoset owned by Leonard Woolf, from about the end of the Bloomsbury era to the outbreak of WWII. Mitz is a mischievous, chattering observer to the Woolfs’ devoted, if a bit Victorian, relationship; their sometimes haughty relationship with their servants and printing press staff; Virginia’s odd adoration of her sister and Vita Sackville-West (who was certainly her literary inferior); their 1935 tour of Europe, including a rather misguided drive through Na...more
Christopher Sullivan
On visiting the pregnant Barbara Rothschild and her husband Victor, the Woolfs, Leonard and Virginia, are astonished by the sight of a monkey emerging from the trees in the Rothschild garden. The monkey in question is a marmoset, a monkey so small one could “have balanced it on your palm like an apple.”
Victor had bought the animal in a junk shop as a (unappreciated) gift for his wife. Some weeks later the Victor Rothschild asks Leonard if he would look after the monkey while he and Barbara went...more
MITZ: THE MARMOSET OF BLOOMSBURY by Sigrid Nunez is one of those rare and special books that light up our imaginations and transport us to another place and time. I'm a fan of the short novel or novella form (less is more), and love most things "Bloomsbury"; I've read THE HOURS, BLOOMSBURY PIE by Regina Marler, THE PORTRAIT OF A MARRIAGE, and numerous books by Virginia Woolf, and seen films of these as well as CARRINGTON. Thus MITZ seems rather like old home week, a reunion of sorts.

In the year...more
In 1934 "A sickly pathetic marmoset" named Mitz came into the care of Leonard Woolf. He nursed her back to health and from then on was rarely seen without the amusing monkey on his shoulder. A ubiquitous presence in Bloomsbury society, Mitz moved with the Woolfs between their homes in London and Sussex. She developed her own special relationships with the family's cocker spaniels and with the various members of the Woolfs' circle, among them T.S. Eliot and Vita Sackville-West. Mitz even played a...more
First, let me say that I agree with Vita Sackville-West's assessment of Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas as a book filled with "misleading arguments".
Now that I have made that clear, I can add that I enjoyed this delightful short romp through the lives of Virginia and her husband Leonard Woolf and, of course, Mitz, the marmoset that adopted them and became a member of their family for a short while. Sigrid Nunez captures the flavor of Bloomsbury in this novella while providing details about the l...more
This is what seems to me a unique look at the famous couple Leonard and Virginia Woolf. This bio-fictional story centers on their interactions with the marmoset they owned during several years of their marriage. This story allows a look at both the charming and the sad elements of their lives. The Woolfs enjoyed a comfortable life within their home in Bloomsbury and their small country cottage, aided in both places by their long-time servants. They seemed to be often in the company of their many...more
Jesse Field
Leonard finished Quack, Quack! at the end of February. Virginia was still struggling with Here & Now. Leonard watched this struggle with anxiety. He was alarmed to see Virginia, coming in to lunch after her morning's work, beet red and almost reeling, one hand to her throbbing head and the other to her wildly jigging heart. Some mornings he would not let her work at all; he served her breakfast in bed and insisted that she stay there. No one knew better than he how serious she was about her
A fun little romp through Bloomsbury in the body of a marmoset. The book wasn't a show-stopper, but I savored the passages about the Woolfs daily life together because of my obsession with Leonard and Virginia. Also, I'm still blown away by the story (retold in this book) of the Woolfs daring holiday in Germany just before WWII. It seems incredibly foolhardy to me, but V and L (who was very Jewish and socialist) went motoring in the German countryside with their marmoset (!!) when the country wa...more
Jan 20, 2009 Caitlin rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caitlin by: Tobias
an interesting book; though it is about the time when the Woolfs had the marmoset Mitz, the monkey did not star quite as prominently as I had expected. Nonetheless, his appearances are frequent and endearing. The biography unfolded is just detailed enough to pique interest. Nunez writes in short sentences; quite the antithesis of V. Woolf's long, nearly stream of consciousness writing. Yet this book also conveys a vivid sense of the times and place.

Overall, quite delightful. It has reignited my...more
Gary Lee
For whatever reason, I don't read too much non-fiction: most of it just isn't of interest. And the term "creative non-fiction" is usually enough for me to pull out the straight razors and run a warm bath...
But given my love of most things Virginia Woolf, I decided to overlook all of that and read this short account of the brief span when the Woolfs (the Woolves?) kept a pet marmoset.

It's entertaining and compulsively readable, even if it does wane a bit, here and there. If you're interested in W...more
Mitz is brought beautifully to life in this utterly charming and richly imagined tale. The writing is lovely and the evocation of VW and LW, and their Bloomsbury circle, is rather splendid. I enjoyed the book very much and recommend it to all Woolf fans. It's always interesting to see how other people recreate your literary heroes. I'm not sure I agree with the entire portrait of VW, but LW is presented as being pretty much the way I imagine him. How forbearing and kind he was to take on a sick...more
Cute. Circumscriptive with allusion to historical and literary context. Definitely not a novel. Caught between two genres: a YA story a la Mitz, and a group biography a la Strachey.

"(No, said Virginia, most emphatically. She herself refused the offer of a Companion of Honour, and when asked to replace H. G. ells as president of PEN, she exploded: 'Conceive the damned insolence! Ten dinners a year, and I to sit at the head of this puling company of back scratchers and administer balm.')" (68)
This woman wrote The Last Of Her Kind, a book that I fell in love with this past summer, but I am sad to report that my second foray into her work did not go as well. I was a little suspicious when I first picked up this novel at the library since it is about a pet marmoset, but I told myself, "It's not just any marmoset, it's Leonard Woolf's marmoset- give Sigrid a chance." But, it turned out that I was mostly bored. (Just so you know, I think I only gave it the 3rd star for Virginia.)
An engaging blend of biography and imaginative projection into the life of Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s pet marmoset. But it's more than an eccentric exercise in storytelling. Through a close-up of the Woolfs’ pet, Nunez meditates on broader concerns of war and mortality (both human and animal). MITZ celebrates literature, along with the day-to-day joys and struggles of writers.
Laura Siegel
A slice of Leonard and Virginia Wolff's life, centered around their beloved marmoset and dogs, amidst the looming rise of Hitler. It was a sweet little book but I was also surprised by its subtle depth. Though a work of fiction, much of the events come from the Wolff's writings. Thank you Marianna for recommending it.
The writing here is so clean and lucid that it feels almost like a children's book. I read some of it aloud to my 14 year old son, and he got very interested. Nunez does a winning job of integrating Leonard and Virginia Woolf's life with an imaginative biography of their pet marmoset, Mitz.
Occasionally delightful one-day read, although it is more or less written in the style of children's literature and does not offer much new to those already interested in the Woolfs, Bloomsbury, or marmosets generally. And why else would one pick it up?
A pleasant read, especially for people fascinated by Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury group. The author has done her research and the writing is fluid. Its charm, but almost its downfall, is that is about as light as the tiny monkey at its centre.
Marian Ferguson
One benefit of browing in a used bookstore is an introduction to Mitz the marmoset who loved with Virginia and Leonard Wolff for four and a half years. Delightful.
A charming novel based on the fact that Leonard and Virginia Woolf kept a marmoset (small monkey). It's a lovely imagining of their life together.
Marianna Monaco
satisfying book - a great look at the home life of Leonard and Virginia Woolf through the biography of their rescued pet marmoset, Mitz.
the cast of characters I love but they are very lightly cast. Still, I enjoyed it. Very different from her other writings.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Little novella about Leonard and Virginia Woolf right before WWII, through the eyes of their marmoset, kind of.
Apr 12, 2012 Alyssa added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alyssa by: Cassandra
a funny little book i am thoroughly enjoying. strangely addictive. but i love all things bloomsbury.
Magdalena Magdalaena
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Sep 06, 2014
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(Photograph ©Marion Ettlinger, 2005)

Sigrid Nunez is the author of six novels: A Feather on the Breath of God, Naked Sleeper, Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury, For Rouenna, The Last of Her Kind, and Salvation City. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. She has been a contributor to The New York Times, Harper's, O Magazine, The Believer, Tin House, and McSweeney's, among...more
More about Sigrid Nunez...
The Last of Her Kind Salvation City Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag A Feather on the Breath of God: A Novel For Rouenna: A Novel

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