John Maynard Keynes, Volume II Essay - Critical Essays

Robert Skidelsky

John Maynard Keynes, Volume II

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The second volume of Skidelsky’s biography of Keynes examines the life of the famous British economist during the interwar period when he was an adviser to British and foreign governments and the author of economic studies which transformed economic theory and policy. Yet Keynes was not merely an economist. Skidelsky provides a full account of Keynes’s support for the arts and his role in the Bloomsbury Group. His 1925 marriage to a Russian ballerina, Lydia Lopokovia, strengthened his ties to the arts community but led to conflict with members of the Bloomsbury Group as they considered her to be intellectually inferior.

Keynes is best known as the author of the GENERAL THEORY OF EMPLOYMENT, INTEREST, AND MONEY (1936) and Skidelsky provides a thorough discussion of the origins, nature and reaction to this work. Skidelsky claims the process of discovery which led to this work originated in Keynes’s efforts to explain why unemployment remained at such high levels during the Great Depression when classical economic theory had maintained that capitalism had a self-regulating mechanism which would prevent this from happening.

Although Keynes has been accused of being a socialist, Skidelsky points out that Keynes never joined the Labour Party and viewed Karl Marx’s economic theories with disdain. Keynes was an active Liberal whose great accomplishment was to make capitalism intellectually respectable in the midst of the Great Depression when many others were preparing to abandon it.

Sources for Further Study

America. CLXXI, July 16, 1994, p. 29.

Canadian Journal of Economics. XXVI, November, 1993, p. 993.

Choice. XXXI, May, 1994, p. 1481.

Economic Journal. CIV, January, 1994, p. 138.

The English Historical Review. CIX, April, 1994, p. 395.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. December 26, 1993, p. 4.

The New York Review of Books. XLI, March 3, 1994, p. 6.

The New York Times Book Review. XCIX, January 23, 1994, p. 1.

Publishers Weekly. CCXL, December 6, 1993, p. 63.

The Washington Post Book World. XXIV, January 2, 1994, p. 1.