Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love
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Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  20 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Challenging both capitalism and the values of Western civilization, the gay socialist writer Edward Carpenter had an extraordinary impact on the cultural and political landscape of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A mystic advocate of, among other causes, free love, recycling, nudism, women’s suffrage and prison reform, Carpenter’s work anticipated the se...more
Hardcover, 568 pages
Published October 31st 2008 by Verso (first published October 1st 2008)
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Matthew Gatheringwater
Reading Rowbothams' exhaustive new biography of Edward Carpenter was a little like reading my own biography. Not because my life resembles Carpenter's, but that my life has changed so much since I was first introduced to him. Much of what I originally admired about him no longer seems admirable to me: his politics too idealistic to be effective; his sex life sordid, self-loathing, and unnecessarily complicated; his appearance absurd and too self-regarding. I am rigid with middle-aged disapproval...more
Evan Pritchard
Oct 15, 2011 Evan Pritchard rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Patient readers interested in late 19th century England; Whitmanites
I didn’t even know I wanted to read a biography of a late 19th century gay British socialist. I saw this book prominently displayed on the New Biographies shelf at the library and impulsively picked it up. Who was Edward Carpenter and why would somebody write a biography about him? Though my questions were answered, this book was not the easiest of reads. Wading through the detailed analysis of his works is a bit of a chore. The book is more entertaining when focusing on the man and his passions...more
Sam Schulman
An interesting life made unreadable by an irritating prose style and an archness about "that dreadful thing which Freud calls sex," to quote Lucia. After about the 37th reference to handsome strapping young workingclass men accompanied by 37 ways of expressing nudge nudge wink wink, I abandoned the effort of picking out the important themes in the life of this first modern advocate - not apologist - of a gay male way of life, whom everyone knew. How could it not be fascinating? By Rowbotham's in...more
Michael Schwarz
This wonderfully written and extremely well-researched biography of Edward Carpenter (1844-1929), by the co-author (with Jeffrey Weeks) of "Socialism and the New Life: The Personal and Sexual Politics of Edward Carpenter and Havelock Ellis" (1977), is likely to become the definitive life of this pioneering campaigner for gay liberation.
Jul 24, 2011 Lesley added it
There has long been a need for a thorough biography of Edward Carpenter and we now have one that is solidly researched and readably written on Carpenter's long, and, in terms of both relationships and politics, complex life. It provides a good sense of his context, and also of the very diffuse and persistence influence he had.
Fascinating bio of a socialist gay utopian of the Victorian era by the beloved feminist Sheila Rowbotham
Interesting man with some admirable qualities but a difficult read. Endless details. Needs some editing.
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