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Self-Extinction

Russell Davies, 18 June 1981

Short Lives 
by Katinka Matson.
Picador, 366 pp., £2.50, February 1981, 9780330262194
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... Holiday and Lenny Bruce. The starry cast of international oddments runs to the likes of Rimbaud, Nijinsky and Modigliani, and as far back as Thomas Chatterton, the Romantic stereotype. As an aid to the study of an important public theme, the list is interesting, but has been assembled, oddly enough, for a much more private reason: namely, as a sort of ...

Back to Their Desks

Benjamin Moser: Nescio, 23 May 2013

Amsterdam Stories 
by Nescio, translated by Damion Searls.
NYRB, 161 pp., £7.99, May 2012, 978 1 59017 492 0
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... the collages of Kurt Schwitters, born 1887; in dance, the broken gesture would be the signature of Nijinsky, born 1889; in music, of Stravinsky, born five days before Nescio. Where Wallace Stevens’s devotion to his day job seems touchingly American, the exit Nescio suggests from this broken world is almost stereotypically Dutch. He sees no better solution ...

Dear Sphinx

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 December 1983

The Little Ottleys 
by Ada Leverson and Sally Beauman.
Virago, 543 pp., £3.95, November 1982, 0 86068 300 1
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The Constant Nymph 
by Margaret Kennedy and Anita Brookner.
Virago, 326 pp., £3.50, August 1983, 0 86068 354 0
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The Constant Novelist: A Study of Margaret Kennedy 1896-1967 
by Violet Powell.
Heinemann, 219 pp., £10.95, June 1983, 0 434 59951 4
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... to dinner by Charlie Chaplin or Winston Churchill.’ The Turkey Trot is discussed along with Nijinsky and Post-Impressionism: ‘please don’t take an intelligent interest in the subjects of the day,’ the hero begs. In Love at Second Sight he is in khaki, and wounded. At the same time the viewpoint grows, not less intelligent, but more sympathetic to ...

Bad Feeling

Gabriele Annan, 5 November 1981

Sonya: The Life of Countess Tolstoy 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 512 pp., £8.50, July 1981, 9780340250020
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... On the other hand, Ms Edwards has read In the Russian Style by Jacqueline Onassis, and a life of Nijinsky. She reminds me of the kind of clockwork mouse that rushes about on a table and turns automatically when it gets to the edge: it covers every millimetre of its ground, but knows perfectly well that it could not cope with what lies beyond. When she is ...

Living Doll and Lilac Fairy

Penelope Fitzgerald, 31 August 1989

Carrington: A Life of Dora Carrington 1893-1932 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 342 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 7195 4688 5
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Lydia and Maynard: Letters between Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Polly Hill and Richard Keynes.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 233 98283 3
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Mazo de la Roche: The Hidden Life 
by Joan Givner.
Oxford, 273 pp., £18, July 1989, 0 19 540705 9
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Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby: A Working Partnership 
by Jean Kennard.
University Press of New England, 224 pp., £24, July 1989, 0 87451 474 6
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Dangerous by Degrees: Women at Oxford and the Somerville College Novelists 
by Susan Leonardi.
Rutgers, 254 pp., $33, May 1989, 0 8135 1366 9
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The Selected Letters of Somerville and Ross 
edited by Gifford Lewis.
Faber, 308 pp., £14.99, July 1989, 0 571 15348 8
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... and at one point, rather absurdly, a stag hunt. Lydia can tell him what Picasso said or what Nijinsky did, but she also has, as the editors put it, ‘a creative taste for ordinary day-to-day living’, so that even a bus-ride or a stomach-ache becomes an absorbing skandal. At the end of the letters there are endearments invented for her ...

Between centuries

Frank Kermode, 11 January 1990

In the Nineties 
by John Stokes.
Harvester, 199 pp., £17.50, September 1989, 0 7450 0604 3
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Olivia Shakespear and W.B. Yeats 
by John Harwood.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 333 42518 9
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Letters to the New Island 
by W.B. Yeats, edited by George Bornstein and Hugh Witemeyer.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £45, November 1989, 0 333 43878 7
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The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson: The ‘Little Review’ Correspondence 
edited by Thomas Scott, Melvin Friedman and Jackson Bryer.
Faber, 368 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 571 14099 8
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Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens: A Tragic Friendship, 1910-1912 
edited by Omar Pound and Robert Spoo.
Duke, 181 pp., £20.75, January 1989, 0 8223 0862 2
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Postcards from the End of the World: An Investigation into the Mind of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna 
by Larry Wolff.
Collins, 275 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 215171 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Bantam, 396 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 593 01862 1
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Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1916-1925 
by Kenneth Silver.
Thames and Hudson, 506 pp., £32, October 1989, 0 500 23567 8
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... be seen that there is a certain strain on many of Eksteins’s connections: Lindbergh arrives, Nijinsky goes mad, Isadora Duncan breaks her neck, the shocking Josephine Baker came from St Louis, like T.S. Eliot, the man who pronounced printemps to be cruel. The interest is in the detail, not the thesis. A chapter on Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western ...

WOW

Anne Hollander, 10 March 1994

Life into Art: Isadora Duncan and Her World 
edited by Dorée Duncan, Carol Pratl and Cynthia Splatt.
Norton, 198 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 393 03507 7
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... renderings, posed and unposed photographs and written descriptions – much the same as that of Nijinsky’s appearances in the same era. But Isadora was a true original, a real prophet, and she had none of Nijinsky’s quality of being a rare flower tended by responsible others; nor did she work in a known tradition that ...

Olivier Rex

Ronald Bryden, 1 September 1988

Olivier 
by Anthony Holden.
Weidenfeld, 504 pp., £16, May 1988, 0 297 79089 7
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... what enabled him to become one: that his films put him in the small company of those – Byron, Nijinsky, Valentino, the last Prince of Wales – with power over the sexual imaginations of millions. Like an incubus, the Olivier of the Thirties and Forties could enter the dreams of the young, the reveries of the less young, and bring them to orgasm. Had he ...

Adipose Tumorous Growths and All

Kevin Kopelson, 18 May 2000

Franz Liszt. Vol. III: The Final Years, 1861-86 
by Alan Walker.
Faber, 594 pp., £45, February 1998, 0 571 19034 0
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The Romantic Generation 
by Charles Rosen.
HarperCollins, 720 pp., £14.99, March 1999, 0 00 255712 6
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Franz Liszt: Selected Letters 
edited by Adrian Williams.
Oxford, 1063 pp., £70, January 1999, 0 19 816688 5
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... order to direct a theatre company. Salinger stopped publishing altogether. I also want to know how Nijinsky could have renounced Romantic ballet in favour of ‘primitive’ choreography. Did the skill no longer pose a challenge? Was it too demanding – too difficult – a mistress, either physically or mentally? Did the performers fear, or sense, a kind of ...

In the Chair

Edward Said, 17 July 1997

Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and the Tragedy of Genius 
by Peter Ostwald.
Norton, 368 pp., $29.95, May 1997, 0 393 04077 1
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When the Music Stops: Managers, Maestros and the Corporate Murder of Classical Music 
by Norman Lebrecht.
Simon and Schuster, 400 pp., £7.99, July 1997, 0 671 01025 5
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... of Gould is by the psychiatrist Peter Ostwald, the author of interesting psycho-biographies of Nijinsky and Robert Schumann; a good amateur violinist, and a friend of the pianist, Ostwald died of cancer before his book was published, but was apparently able to finish his manuscript despite the travails of his final weeks. Ostwald’s is the first study ...

Lady Talky

Alison Light: Lydia Lopokova, 18 December 2008

Bloomsbury Ballerina: Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes 
by Judith Mackrell.
Weidenfeld, 476 pp., £25, April 2008, 978 0 297 84908 7
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... phoenix than a delicate hummingbird). Tiny, fast and feather light, with a leap almost as high as Nijinsky’s, at 18 she was the latest sensation of the Ballets Russes. Diaghilev knocked a year off her age and promoted her as a child star. Mackrell is astute about Lopokova’s handling of her early celebrity and her ‘cultural doubleness’. ‘La ...

Keepers

Andrew Scull, 29 September 1988

Mind Forg’d Manacles: A History of Madness in England from the Restoration to the Regency 
by Roy Porter.
Athlone, 412 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 485 11324 4
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The Past and the Present Revisited 
by Lawrence Stone.
Routledge, 440 pp., £19.95, October 1987, 0 7102 1253 4
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Sufferers and Healers: The Experience of Illness in 17th-Century England 
by Lucinda McCray Beier.
Routledge, 314 pp., £30, December 1987, 0 7102 1053 1
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Illness and Self in Society 
by Claudine Herzlich and Janine Pierret, translated by Elborg Forster.
Johns Hopkins, 271 pp., £20.25, January 1988, 0 8018 3228 4
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Medicine and Society in Wakefield and Huddersfield 1780-1870 
by Hilary Marland.
Cambridge, 503 pp., £40, September 1987, 0 521 32575 7
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A Social History of Madness: Stories of the Insane 
by Roy Porter.
Weidenfeld, 261 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 297 79223 7
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... and John Clare; Sylvia Plath, Laing’s Mary Barnes and Freud’s Dora; Robert Schumann and Vaslav Nijinsky; and poor George III, in his declining years a living facsimile of Lear. There are also other, less familiar figures. There is, for instance, the remarkable Alexander Cruden, the self-styled Alexander the Corrector: expatriate Scotsman, Protestant ...

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