Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature” as Want to Read:
The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  345 ratings  ·  87 reviews
A revelatory narrative of the intersecting lives and works of Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence during 1922, the birth year of modernism

The World Broke in Two tells the fascinating story of the intellectual journey four legendary writers, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, and D. H. Lawrence, make over the course of one pivotal year. As 1922 be/>The
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Henry Holt and Co.
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The World Broke in Two, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The World Broke in Two

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  345 ratings  ·  87 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Joseph Spuckler
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year that Changed Literature by Bill Goldstein is the interconnected story of four of the twentieth century’s greatest writers and the influence of two of their peers. Goldstein is a multifaceted littérateur and holds a Ph.D. in English from the CUNY Graduate Center, with a specialization in early modern English literature. Goldstein has also worked both in publishing and in journalism, most notably as a s ...more
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many books have been shaped around the events of a particular year and, in this work, author Bill Goldstein takes a quote from Willa Cather, who said that 1922 was, “the year the world broke in two, ” as a starting point to look at Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence and E.M. Forster and the challenges they faced during that year. It is generally considered the year of modernism, when it seems the whole of literary London was reading Joyce’s, “Ulysses,” and Proust’s first English translati ...more
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I utterly loved "The World Broke in Two" -- as a reader and as a writer. It's captivating and inspiring. Bill Goldstein writes like a gifted novelist ("caught in the vise of his grief;" "the burr, examined, became, as usual, a spur;" "what Thayer had lost of face he was making up in circulation"). It just happens that the four main characters are Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, and E.M. Forster. When I was done, I immediately went to my dog-earred Forster and Woolf and savored them ag ...more
Roman Clodia
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some dates that seem to change the world into a 'before' and 'after': the first battles of WW1 that saw an unimaginable number of men slaughtered; the liberation of the Nazi death camps that made the Holocaust visual and visceral to the world; the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; 9/11 - Goldstein takes that idea and tries to apply it to 1922 as a 'year that changed literature'. It's a great idea for a book, even if the text itself doesn't quite live up to the progr ...more
M. Sarki
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
The web of all four writers hinges both on their mutual relationships and on the censorship issues of their time. A very interesting read and fascinating study for the literary ones among us. Well-written and easily engaged. On a personal note I did find Virginia Woolf imminently more interesting than the three men also intimately exposed.
MaryBeth's Bookshelf
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
What a fascinating look at four authors who changed the world of literature - Virginia Woolf, T.S. Elliot, D.H. Lawrence, and E.M. Forster. This book chronicles each authors life during the year 1922 as they wrote some of their most important and well known books. I listened to the audio, brilliantly narrated by the author himself, and felt transported back to that time. I couldn't help but think how amazing it must have been to do the research for this with access to their personal papers and d ...more
Tracy Rowan
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm a long-time reader of works by and about the Bloomsbury group and other writers and artists who were peripherally connected to it, so much of what's in this book was familiar to me. And yet there was much I learned, particularly about E. M. Forster. Either he has not been the subject of a good deal of bio-critical work, or I simply haven't noted and/or read the material, which is odd because he's been my consistent favorite author of the four dealt with here.

I freely confess that
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
I got a free copy of this from a Goodreads giveaway. I was mainly interested in Mr. DH Lawrence while also appreciating Virginia Woolf and TS Eliot. The latter 2 were particularly boring people obsessing with what others thought of them. EM Forster was more interesting, being a gay man in a time where that was socially unacceptable. As for the title of the book, the author presents these authors works of 1922 as changing literature, but then mentions on almost every page how they were all respon ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Willa Cather pronounced that 'the world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts'. WWI had been one of the most devastating conflicts in world history, leaving 41 million dead. Those who survived combat returned home wounded in body and soul and mind. Vast stretches of Europe had been turned into a wasteland, leaving millions of refugees. The Victorian world view and values were irrelevant and archaic. A new world view was arising from the ashes.

The World Broke in Two by Bill Goldstein pr
Murray Ewing
I like this approach to biography, narrowing the period to a single (crucial) year, while broadening the remit to include four subjects instead of the usual one. It has the advantage that you skip the (often dull, because they’re not writing) childhood to get to the meat of a writer’s life. Plus, if you get bored with one author’s tribulations, you soon shift focus to another’s, so there’s plenty of variety.

The World Broke in Two looks at four writers who brought poetry and the novel into a/>The
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I finished The World Broke In Two and many thanks to the Librarything Early Reviewers program for getting a chance to read it.

It's an interesting premise - that 1922 was a significant year in the lives + work of V Woolf, TS Eliot, DH Lawrence and EM Forster although I don't think the author quite pulls it off because Lawrence - although he moved to Taos, wasn't really publishing anything that significant - or certainly not as notable as Mrs Dalloway or The Waste Land. Still it was in
Vivek Tejuja
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
To want to read a book since a while and then to actually read it and not be disappointed by it is kicking Murphy’s behind. I had to say this because I was apprehensive about whether or not I would enjoy reading “The World Broke in Two”. I love books centered around literary events and what happened in the past between authors and what were the circumstances like. You get the drift. This book is about the year 1922 and four authors that changed the course of English Literature – Virginia Woolf, ...more
Oct 05, 2017 added it
Shelves: 2017
1922 was an intense, anxiety-fueled year for these four writers, all of whom underestimated and downplayed their work...but who wouldn't in a year that saw the publication of Joyce's Ulysses and the English translation of Proust?

High points: there is a memorably dreamy passage about Forster reading Proust for the first time aboard a ship en route from Egypt to England via Marseille, having just departed from the man he loved for the last time. And it was totally absorbing to read about Woolf ov
Barbara M
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book sheds light on what it is like to be an acclaimed author who is also an avid reader. I'm surprised to learn that some of the greatest literary minds didn't always understand what other great authors were trying to say.
I'm also impressed by the effort to "find the right words" these authors struggled with, particularly Woolf in "Mrs. Dalloway" and Forester in "A Passage To India".
I have not read either of those books but I think I would like to.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This amazing book will be of interest to anybody who is involved with or has an interest in any of the following: the creative process, books, history, and/or experiencing a non-fiction book that reads like a novel and includes love stories, mental illness, jealousy and suspense regarding major changes in the world after World War I.

As a writer, I will focus this review on the benefits that reading this book might bring to those who write, want to write, or who are fascinated about t
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-books, acob
This is my second go at this review and I would skip it, but this book is too good and important not to review. Bill Goldstein is the book critic and author interviewer on Today in New York Weekend as well as working at Hunter College in NYC. This book covers the year 1922 when four famous authors were working hard on books that would not only change their lives, but change literature going forward. I have not read any of their work since school and they were lumped together in my mind. Dr. Gold ...more
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Interest in English early modern writers
Recommended to Lily by: Library New Books Display
I picked this up right about Thanksgiving from the new books display in the nearby library in my system. Very glad to have done so, I enjoyed the book, the stories about these four authors intertwined with their publishing difficulties. I have been struggling with how to review this and having found this on-target review from NPR, I'll start here by quoting excerpts from Glen Weldon:

"The ingenious conceit of Goldstein's book is to follow, using excerpts from both their correspondence
Oct 12, 2018 added it
I am not going to rate this one because I listened to it as an audiobook and sometimes didn't devote my whole attention to it while multi-tasking. Additionally, I was most interested in the Eliot and Woolf sections, though I became increasingly interested in Forster. Lawrence fell through the cracks for me and was, I think, one subject too many for the book's style and scope. (I have somehow managed to read two Forster novels in my life yet can hardly remember anything but Merchant Ivory images. ...more
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was FASCINATING. I hadn't thought about just how closely the lives of my favorite modernists were intertwined. I forget that these authors were real people with lives and I really appreciated how this book provided me with an overarching insight into them. There was obviously so much research put into the book because every page quotes from a myriad of letters and diary entries from not only Woolf, Eliot, Lawrence, and Forster, but so many of their other contemporaries and those import ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting account of the lives of four authors in 1922.
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, history
I didn’t love the structure and at times the use of info or quotes seemed a stretch.
Laurel Hicks
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating in many ways.
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very well-researched book about the year that was crucial and marked the birth of modern literature.
I enjoyed the author's style with its well-paced and well-constructed sentences, with insightful analysis, with detailed historical perspective looking back and forth in time for the authors I like and whose works I cherish.

I also enjoyed revisiting the world these authors created albeit it happened mainly tangentially.
Tim Pinckney
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The premise is that in 1922, these four authors, either began, moved forward with or finished seminal works. I found it fascinating to read what challenged and encouraged these giants to take the significant step forward that each of them did. I knew almost nothing about Eliot, a little more about Lawrence and Woolf and quite a bit more about Forster. As someone who is as interested in the author as I am in the work, I was in a bit of heaven for much of this read.
Stephanie Griffin
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
These people were messed up! I think I'll read their books!
Fraser Kinnear
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: art, history, english
This was a pretty cool concept for a history / joint biography. Choose an important year in history and explain what happened to several artists of similar stature. It's not unlike Sue Roe's In Monmartre, although Goldstein found a subject that could be even more temporally constrained, and across more artists!

However, I was really hoping for less biography and more literary criticism. I think this book assumes you have read all of these authors, and I've only read half of them. Even worse, I'd only read
Beth Skubis
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
A well-researched book that weaves back and forth between the struggles, and ultimately triumph, of four authors (Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, and D.H. Lawrence) in 1922. Unfortunately, the book is structurally unbalanced and ultimately reads more as a (quite interesting but yet disappointing) year-in-the-life of the four authors, drawn from primary sources. Only those portions on Eliot provide some developing insight into the changes in literature that are promised in the subtitle; ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
1922 was the year that ‘Ulysses’ was published and Proust’s work was translated into English. Willa Cather declared that the world broke in two in that year, because these were literary works that were distinctly different from all that had come before them. These works had effects on other writers, of course- Virginia Woolf said, after reading Proust “Well, what remains to be written after that?” Thankfully, after being unable to write due to illnesses both mental and physical, she found a new ...more
Paul Brewer
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I spent a long time with this book because my wife died in the middle of my reading it. (The library will receive a hefty payment from me, in fines.) In that sense, my own personal experience neatly dovetailed with how Bill Goldstein envisions the dramatic break between literature before and literature after.

For Goldstein, the English literary world was transformed by the impact of two giants who are off-stage in this book -- James Joyce and Marcel Proust. Rather, we see the influence of these
Jun 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Paralleling the biographies of 4 authors seem at first to serve no purpose other than to rehash previous work already done on these well-known authors; the value of that only becomes gradually clearer. This book brings into view their interactions, their experiences, writings, and personally-held theories of art speak to each other. As one struggles to write, another finds his/her big break; one hears with mixed feelings the success of another. (However appealing the concept of a sort of 'micro- ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Reading the 20th ...: The World Broke in Two by Bill Goldstein (Dec 2017) 54 27 Dec 15, 2017 10:11AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Constellation of Genius: 1922: Modernism Year One
  • George Orwell: The Authorised Biography
  • Fracture: Life and Culture in the West, 1918-1938
  • A Splendid Savage: The Restless Life of Frederick Russell Burnham
  • A Moment's Liberty: The Shorter Diary
  • The Literary Underground of the Old Regime
  • Pearl Buck in China: Journey to the Good Earth
  • Shanghai Grand: Forbidden Love and International Intrigue in a Doomed World
  • Black Fire: The True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer--and of the Mysterious Fires That Baptized Gold Rush-Era San Francisco
  • Meet Me in Venice: A Chinese Immigrant's Journey from the Far East to the Faraway West
  • The Novel: An Alternative History, 1600-1800
  • Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson
  • Death and the Maidens: Fanny Wollstonecraft and the Shelley Circle
  • Children's Literature: A Reader's History, from Aesop to Harry Potter
  • Wolf: The Lives of Jack London
  • Now the Drum of War: Walt Whitman and His Brothers in the Civil War
  • Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein's Creator
  • Seeing America
See similar books…