Lytton Strachey and the New History

  • Piero V. Mini


Recently, thanks largely to the persistence of G. L. S. Shackle, economists have come to accept the fact that the concept of uncertainty is at the centre of The General Theory. In earlier chapters we related the concept to Keynes’s Apostolic life, to G. E. Moore’s criticism of the utilitarian notion of judging by ‘consequences’ and to his epistemological ‘common sense’ (for the common man knows that there are things about which ‘your guess is as good as mine’). To a large extent, though, the concept of uncertainty owes much to ‘the Bloomsbury method’ — a method that relied on psychology as an explanatory tool. Perhaps this is the greatest innovation of The General Theory: after one hundred years of following geometrical modes of thought, a treatise arose that asked economists to adopt psychological modes of thinking Before dealing with that book, we shall illustrate the new method in the work of Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf, as we illustrated it before in the New Aesthetics.


General Theory Geometrical Mode Intercessory Prayer Great Historian Religious Delusion 
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  1. 1.
    Lytton Strachey, ‘Gibbon’ (1928), in The Shorter Strachey, ed. Michael Holroyd and Paul Levy (Oxford, 1980) p. 89.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Michael Holroyd, Lytton Strachey, vol. ii: The Years of Achievement: 1919–1932 (London, 1967) p. 262, quoting from a 1909 review of Strachey.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Quoted in André Mourois, Points of View: From Kipling to Graham Greene (New York, 1968) p. 231.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Charles Richard Sanders, Lytton Strachey: His Mind and Art (Port Washington, NY, 1957) p. 183n.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians (Garden City, NY, 1933) p. vii.Google Scholar
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    John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936), in The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. vii (Cambridge, 1971–9) p. 154. Emphasis added.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lytton Strachey, ‘A Victorian Critic’ (1914), in The Shorter Strachey, ed. Holroyd and Levy, p. 177.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lytton Strachey, Elizabeth and Essex: A Tragic History (New York, 1928) p. 9.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Charles H. Hession, John Maynard Keynes (New York and London, 1984) esp. preface and ch. 6.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Piero V. Mini 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Piero V. Mini
    • 1
  1. 1.Bryant CollegeRhode IslandUSA

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