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Pentimento (Back Bay Books) Paperback – March 29, 2000
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Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
It was at this point, however, that controversy arose. The film caught the attention of Muriel Gardner, who promptly asserted that she was 'Julia' and the story itself was significantly based on her own life and work in pre-World War II Germany. She also stated that she had never met Lillian Hellman--but it transpired that she and Hellman had at one time shared the same attorney, who was well aware of her past and who could have described it to Hellman.
Hellman flatly stated that Gardner was not 'Julia' and insisted that the story, while altered re details and circumstances to protect the identities of those involved, was indeed factual. As more details of Gardner's life came to light, however, it seemed increasingly likely that Hellman had indeed made use of it in creating the story, and the dispute continues to provoke strong feelings even some thirty years after the deaths of both Hellman and Gardner.
It was not the first time Hellman had been accused of literary fraud and it would not be last. During her long love affair with novelist Dashiell Hammett, Hellman was frequently accused of draining his ideas to further her own work.Read more ›
Reading this book is like listening to Hellman talk intimately about her life. It is a true memoir; she does not remember details; the conversations tend to be fragmented, and she freely admits that her memories may have been blurred by the passage of time (and in some instances, Hellman's enthusiastic consumption of liquor).
Hellman was an extraordinary writer and an extraordinary woman. In PENTIMENTO she reveals herself as few writers have ever done. She makes no attempt to portray herself as a hero or a villain, but as a real, living, breathing woman with changing views and difficult but fascinating relationships.
One of the vignettes tells of her friendship with "Julia," a woman whom she had known from girlhood who became an anti-Nazi resistance fighter and eventually was murdered by the Gestapo. There have been several cries of "FAKE!" and "LIAR!" concerning the Julia chapter, particularly from a woman named Muriel Gardiner, who claimed to be the model for the Julia character in both Hellmann's book and the subsequent film adaptation (a brilliant one directed by Fred Zinnemann). To be sure, Hellmann was known by her friends and family to be a woman who exaggerated things; it's what made her such a great playwright. But the only thing I can say in Hellmann's defense regarding the "Julia" chapter is that Muriel Gardiner, what ever she herself did or did not do during WWII, it is indisputable that she emerged from it with life and limb intact.Read more ›
While I do think it matters if she consciously fictionalized her life, whatever the facts this is a good read. I will leave it to scholars and critics to hash out the debate.
There are many memorable scenes that live in my mind: her floating in a storm and remembering an incident of killing a snapping turtle, with reminiscences of Hammett as her great love. The scene wanders into a rumination of death and loss, which I thought was real literature. Of course, there is the story of Julia, but there are many other notable scenes, like Hemingway competing with Hammett over his sppon-bending abilities. It is also a window into the past that is vividly rendered.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Why aren't Lillian Hellman's books on Kindle or most any ebook publisher's list? And why isn't her short story, Julia, which was made into a movie that won multiple Academy Awards,... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Montara
We discussed Pentimento in my book club. I personally this is a work of fiction not a memoir. Hellman is a good writer and tells a good storyPublished 12 months ago by happy reader
All the controversy may be true, or it may be many other writers were miffed because she came on in such a different way. Polically it was a very tenuous time. Read morePublished 15 months ago by J. L. Serkes
I was introduced to this memoir in college in the 1970's and recently bought it for our granddaughter. Read morePublished on February 2, 2014 by Susan
If you have never read "Pentimento," you should find a way to rectify that fact. The terrible beauty of the story "Julia" has stayed with me for decades. Read morePublished on December 8, 2009 by R. Doyle
A wnderful "re-visit" to this writers journey of her life, an independent soul, perhaps even "unfinished" (are we ever "finished?". Read morePublished on June 10, 2009 by Bruce R. Nelson
Lillian Hellman was a fascinating woman but it has been well-established that most of her anectodal vignettes are complete fabrications. Read morePublished on July 1, 2006 by Danae Savitri