Geoffrey Scott is a spectral figure in twentieth-century English literary culture. I have known people who have read Robert Skidelsky’s biography of John Maynard Keynes, Meryle Secrest’s biography of Bernard Berenson, and R. W. B. Lewis’s biography of Edith Wharton, in each of which Scott merits several mentions, yet who do not thereafter recall Scott’s name. It is in part that Scott was that type of mercurial belletrist whose body of work comprises diverse projects known principally to specialists in given areas. Thus, the expert on Johnson and Boswell will certainly know of Scott. The expert in the theory of classical architecture will know of Scott. The expert on eighteenth-century French literature is likely to have heard of Scott. But to the general fan of literary biographies Scott’s just another in the long list of people—hangers-on, adventurers, dilettantes—whom famous people slept with. It’s a pity, for Scott, who died...


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