Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Written Lives

If you are at all interested in the authors who wrote the classics, do read this delightfully irreverent series of mini-biographies. Nothing of the tedious pompousness some ‘real’ studies seem to be clad in, but a human, compassionate view of the characters as told through a few anecdotes. A light easy read, very instructive and insightful. I learned about His Sadness Turgenev, the likable Drunk Lowry who is followed around by various fires, sharing this trait with the family of Sherman Alexie. Of course we learn about endless affairs and believe me in 1862 during the permissive, even libertine Edwardian period in England, orgies, sodomy and other ‘irregularities’ were quite normal. That is as long as they were kept within one’s circle of higher class, salons and artists. Strange to read the list of lovers and knowing who died of syphilis… Javier Marias adds a short series about the portraits of well known writers which will make you take a second look at any pictures you have lying around of yourself. A pleasant interludium

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