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My Life Paperback – March 17, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Liveright; Reissue edition (March 17, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871401584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871401588
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #562,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Fabulous is the only adjective that comes close to doing justice to Isadora Duncan (1878-1927). Her awesomely self-assured autobiography depicts a woman who while still in her teens tells an eminent theatrical manager (from whom she desperately needs a job), "I have discovered the art that has been lost for two thousand years.... I bring you the dance." In Duncan's rendering of her life, composers fling themselves at the piano and compose new music for her on the spot. Men pine for her love (the book's sexual frankness, while hardly startling today, was considered quite scandalous in 1927). And the poor mortals who can never understand her need to be free can at least applaud wildly at her concerts. Duncan and her siblings sleep in a bare Parisian attic, then dance barefoot through the Luxembourg Gardens. They travel to Greece to worship "in the Sacred Land of Hellas," where they build their very own temple. Duncan is capable of seeing the humor in her rhapsodic immersion in art, but we don't really want her to be realistic and self-deprecating like ordinary mortals. It's her divine passion, her supreme confidence in her own genius that make My Life such fun to read. --Wendy Smith

Review

“Isadora was a wild voluptuary, a true revolutionary. She flouted every tradition. . . . She alone and unhelped changed the direction of her entire art.” (Agnes de Mille)

“Fascinating, even sensational reading.” (New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "cazzer65" on January 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
Isadora Duncan was a trailblazer and this book details her life and how she became the unique woman and artist that she was. Her story is fascinating not only because she was one of the originators of modern dance but because her flaws and her ego are so obviously present in the text. This only serves to make her more fascinating and when she writes about the loss of her child or the efforts to keep the flame of love alive, every man and woman can identify with her.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Vince Cabrera on September 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
An autobiography is a way of looking inside a person's mind. We have no real right to expect objectivity or "the long view" on any given subject.
Isadora Duncan's autobiography is a terrific example of the above. She was a hugely talented, flamboyant individual who chose to march to her own drummer from an early age. She is passionate in her descriptions of her inner life, her career and her lovers and changed the whole concept of "The Dance", breaking away from ballet (which she considered ugly and contrived) and inventing what we'd call "modern dance".
She was a fantastic dancer, but as a writer she is far too interested in her own inner world. The people around her float by as a succesion of badly defined cardboard cutouts, and one visited city sounds much like any other. After a while this DOES get rather boring. The lack of dates (such as "that was in 1925" or whatever) or a neatly defined chapter structure means that it's pretty hard to keep track of the passage of time. In the end, reading this book becomes a bit of a struggle: it's like being stuck in a someone's rather boring dreamworld.
Her sollipsism is (at times) a bit of a hoot and her inability to perceive the world for what it is provide the reader with occasional bits of unintentional black comedy.
An example: after deciding that ancient Greece was the mother of all art, Isadora sunk a great deal of her money in trying to rebuild a Greek temple. Her family spoke no Greek but lived for months amid the ruins, performing dances and wearing togas while getting cheated by the local villagers.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By rosie o'donnell on January 29, 2000
Format: Library Binding
As a keen fan of autobiographys this book automatically appealed to me. although I had not heard of Isadora's profound infleunce on the world of art or dance, the reviews on the book sold it for me. I thouroughly enjoyed her abstract and sometimes perplexing stories about her up- bringing. However as her travels with her family increased i found her to be quite selfish and single-minded in regards to her career. This i felt led her story, although a biography, to become quite a monotonous and tedious read. In her favour I would say that the book is written in an honest and frank manner.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David Spanswick on May 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
I first read this book after seeing Ken Russell's film "The World's Biggest Dancer" in the 1960's The film is, unfortunately, lost. I fell in love with the myth of this fabulous woman and was impressed with Vanessa Redgrave's portrayal of her in Karel Reisz's "Isadora" also hopelessly lost I believe. This is not a great work of art: it has episodes of naively underwritten material tailored into whole paragraphs of wonderful philosophy of a futuristic world when art and beaty supercede greed and material gain. The ghost of Isadora haunts this book; a woman broken by personal tragedy writing these words in the last years of a life that, by any standards, was extraordinary. I keep it on my shelf along with Nijinsky's "Life" both books testimony to the inability of words to express the emotions of genius
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about Isadora's life in her own words. However, I found the story to be a little boring because it focused exclusively on her life with no other background information to read about. But, again there are interesting details included about the author's life.
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By Deanna Fox on March 31, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Loved the autobiography, was disappointed it stopped just as she was about to open the school in Moscow though. Thanks!
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