It has been characteristic of my reading since mid teens that I read several to many books at a time. My mother used to be driven crazy by the way I carried a small/ medium-sized pile of books around with me - planting them wherever I wanted to sit.
In those days it was mostly fiction that I read, but from my middle twenties I was more likely to read non-fiction including biographies.
These are often disillusioning - even when they are (more or less) good (and most biographies published are terrible (far worse than most novels) - as you can see from the bio section in bookshops). Yet I continue to explore them - and will often read many or all the available biographies of someone who interests me.
At present I am reading The Oxford Inklings by Colin Duriez - which I found in a secondhand bookshop in Glasgow; volume two of Rudolf Steiner's life by Peter Selg; a biography of Michael Tippett by Oliver Soden; and am expecting delivery of Sun King's Counsellor - a biography of Cecil Harwood by Simon Blaxland de Lange.
The Inklings bio is primarily intended for a popular audience, as compared with the other available Inklings books - but the author 'knows his stuff' and writes in an enjoyable style. For someone like me there is not much that is new - but Duriez takes a different angle and highlights different aspects from other biographer, so it is nonetheless interesting. I was also pleased to see myself referenced!
The Tippett book is more revelatory. I have read several previous biogs of Tippett (incluyding a big one by Ian Kemp in the 1980s), and the composer's autobiography; but Soden has done a more thorough job. Unfortunately, the book also exhibits the common defects of modern biographies of a glib/ facetious tone, and pervasive leftist assumptions and propaganda.
Cecil Harwood was best friends with both CS Lewis from when they were undergraduates, and Owen Barfield from schooldays; and Barfield and Harwood were appointed Lewis's literary executors. Harwood was an anthroposophist, headmaster of a Steiner school and became the leader of the main group of the British Anthroposophical Society.
Blaxland de Lange wrote an enjoyable and valuable (albeit eccentrically organized) biography of Barfield; so I am looking forward to this new one.
One interesting aspect of the Tippett book that reinforces an insight that grew upon me only gradually is that Leftism (which grew mostly in Britain, and was led from Britain until the 1960s) was always mainly about the sexual revolution - and only secondarily about economics.
(Tippett, in his youth, was actively involved in organized revolutionary communist politics = widely, recklessly sexually promiscuous with men - mostly. The personnel/ networks involved were all-but identical.)
So the New Left of 'identity politics' (sexual 'liberation', antiracism, feminism etc) which emerged and took-over the Left leadership and socio-cultural mainstream from the middle 1960s (and which now rules the world) was from the later 1800s and increasingly through the early twentieth century - a hotbed of both promiscuity and 'nontraditional' sexuality among both leadership and many of the followers.
In one sense I have known about this since my mid teens, through reading biographies of English Fabian Society leaders (Hubert Bland, GB Shaw, HG Wells, CEM Joad...), Socialists and Communists (the circles of Pre-Raphaelites, Edward Carpenter, Oscar Wilde).
But - misled by the strong nonconformist Christian tradition of Leftism - I used to suppose that the economics came first, and the sex was secondary and optional. That the desire for radical social change - and the alleviation of poverty and deprivation - was the driving passion; while the desire for more sex with more kinds of people was a consequence of the economically-driven new society.
Now I would say that the truth of Left motivation was more often, and more powerfully, sexual - and the complex apparatus of theoretical and activist Leftist politics was an elaborately indirect excuse and rationale for the desired sexual 'liberation'.
Partly the economic/ political theory served to disguise the true motivation from individuals themselves, and partly it served to disguise a long termist strategy from the general public; because one clear factor that emerges is the degree to which the sexually radical colluded to promote and defend each other; the extent to which (from the earliest days) they operated as a cabal, a mafia, a conspiracy of interest.
This has become obvious now; but a century ago was much less obvious - and the 'idealism' of Leftist economics and activities was more evident on the surface.
What happened is evidence of corruption. The demonic side of Leftism worked mainly through sex and sexuality; and had its inevitably corrupting effect on those who embraced it; with attitudes, motivations and behaviours causing personal degeneration that would have been much more evident had it not been covered up and explained away by the collusion of other Leftists...
Until such a point of moral inversion was reached (after the middle 1960s) where the sexual revolution could be celebrated, promoted, subsidized - and finally enforced by legal and employment regulations; and biological, traditional, Christian sexuality could be demonized and excluded from public discourse (including education and 'science').
I now perceive that the Left was always about sex, because it always was demonic in its most powerful and pervasive motivations. Of course the Left (i.e. evil) is not only about sex and sexuality - because resentment, fear, and despair are now becoming even more dominant sins than sex. Modern Leftism is becoming more and more negative as it become more evil - because the deepest nature of evil is purely oppositional (against God, divine creation and The Good - and not 'for' anything).
But while the masses demanded some positive and pleasurable motivation - it was mainly the prospect and promise of sex that took the place of religion as the main drive.
Economic, political and social Leftism provided (for a few generations) the necessary 'cover' to make this sexual behavioural priority into something that was - for a more Christian, and more moral, era - psychologically and sociologically plausible and defensible.
Now that we live in a society where the Christian churches are all-but destroyed/ dwindled and corrupted; and where Big Lie based inverted-morality is globally dominant and mandatory - there is less and less need for the sexual revolution to retain its lures of promiscuity and novelty for the masses; who now live in a world of sexual lockdown and sexual distancing without any planned end.
But for the ruling Establishment at its higher and secretive levels, I have no doubt that the sexual revolution - in more corrupt and more evil forms - retains its role as a primary covert motivator.