Colonial outsider

29 May 2014 | by D.J. Taylor


Woolf in the JungleBBC Radio 4 NICHOLAS RANKIN’s fascinating enquiry into the pre-Virginia career of Leonard Woolf (22 May) began with an archive clip of the subject being interviewed by Malcolm Muggeridge in his Sussex garden some time in the late 1960s. If nothing else, this offered a splendid opportunity to admire the Bloomsbury accent in all its syllable-stretching glory (“practically” pronounced “prahk-tik-arly”) but its philosophical core was revealed at the moment when Muggeridge wondered what Woolf thought of the power he was encouraged to wield in his job as a colonial civil servant. “In a sort of way I liked it very much,” Woolf allowed, while admitting that he came to regard it as “a very bad thing”.Bad, we were given to un

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