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The Real Nureyev: An Intimate Memoir of Ballet's Greatest Hero Hardcover – December 27, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (December 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312340974
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312340971
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,757,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The ghost of Rudolf Nureyev is doggedly pursued by Soutar—who, as stage manager of London's Coliseum in the 1980s, knew and idolized him—but never quite caught in a disjointed, sometimes trite, sometimes charming collection of memories from the author and those who knew the dancer best, like his lover-turned-live-in-friend Robert Tracy and Australian Ballet hands Bill Akers and Roger Myers. To those who didn't bask in his radiance, the ballet star (1938–1993) seems more enraging than engaging, testing people by daring them to give back as good as he gave (he virtually invited Soutar to find him buck naked in his dressing room when he was late getting to the stage on their first night working together). Nureyev's generosity and occasional good humor emerge—his aid to an ailing, indigent Tamara Karsavina; his enjoyment at being ribbed by the stagehands—but also his sometimes violent rages. Soutar digresses often, for instance, into her own career and the life of Princess Margaret, one of the women close to Nureyev. After too many exclamations of how extraordinary he was, ballerina Violette Verdy captures Nureyev's raw power best: "He was primitive, untamed. He did everything instinctively, almost barbarously." (Jan.)
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"'I found her view from backstage a fascinating one, the whole process of putting on a ballet, the tensions and dramas that we in the audience do not see. Her portrait of Nureyev is a valuable addition to the many biographies already published.'" Publishing News "'Carolyn Souter, with her unique perspective, has captured the fragility, the compulsion for perfection, and the tremendous work ethic embodied in Rudolph Nureyev. So much of Rudolph's complex life was spent in the theatre, not just onstage, but the very lonely backstage. This moving book is a very full portrait of the great Nureyev, and has revived precious memories for me. Brava Carolyn.'" -- Violette Verdy, Distinguished Professor of Ballet, Indiana University-Bloomington --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By B. Evans on July 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
So dissatisfied was I with this book that when I finished it, I pulled out my l994 copy of the marvelous Perpetual Motion, the Public and Private Lives Of Rudolf Nureyev by Otis Stuart and reread it. If you want an in-depth understanding of Nureyev as both a person and dancer, I recommend that you get Stuart's well-written book and skip Soutar's. What Soutar principally does is list tidbits about Nureyev, a good portion of which come from people other than herself. About the only ones that were new to me were 1) that Nureyev's first encounter with Souter was in the nude and 2) that as his skills diminished, he referred to himself as "old galoshes." Souter also spends too much time detailing her job as a stage manager, work she makes seem quite tedious.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gina R. Morvay on September 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Much of the info in this book has been previously written about in Diane Soloway's book on Rudi (and better written). As someone who loves Russian ballet, I went ahead and read it, but even though you can cruise through it in a day, I found myself wondering why I was bothering to spend my time on it? The author was a stage manager for some of Nureyev's performances mostly with the London Festival and Boston Ballet Companies in the 80s. I saw him in the late 70s and he had already lost most of his technique, so I can't even imagine what the quality of dancing was like. She interviews Robert Tracy who, for a short time, was Rudi's boyfriend and, for a much longer time, one of his many unofficial assistants. Throw in a few remarks from Violette Verdy, a couple of people who knew Rudi in Australia and some backstage observations and you have a mediocre memoir without much depth. But, worst of all, is St. Martin's Press who obviously didn't fact check this book at all. The numerous errors are ridiculous... from the easily checked (she lists the wrong composer for Spectre of the Rose) to making the statement that Baryshnikov is Jewish (an especially absurd 'fact' since there have been many books about Mischa none of which have ever claimed this). Clearly, the author doesn't know cr*p about ballet. I got my copy at the library... don't waste your money buying it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By northkona on February 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK, so not a great book, not scholarly like Julie Kavanagh's "Nureyev, A Life," a little messy, but I think worthwhile in a certain way, it does describe something of the way Nureyev talked and behaved, and the fact that this is told from a stage manager's point of view is a plus, in my opinion. I read this Very Fast on the couch, in a couple of hours. You can breeze through it and find the funny stuff easily. One thing that sets this biography apart from nearly all the others is that the author knew Nureyev, for years. She knew him in the place he liked best, the theater. Other reviews here point out errors, lack of fact-checking, and those are valid criticisms. I noticed those misstatements, too.

To write this book, the author relied heavily on sessions she spent with Nureyev's former lover, and the picture we get of that man (perhaps unintentionally) is sad. We see him as a discarded, abandoned former lover who could not let go, continuing to live in one of Nureyev's residences when Rudolf was elsewhere. Ack, you get the picture all too clearly of someone living off the dust of a former relationship, which includes, I might add, getting involved in a long series of interviews with this author about life with the Famous Man. The better information in the book is not what the author got from those interviews, but what she observed herself. The funny stories about Nureyev are well told, like watching a movie, you can see these things happening, and you will laugh out loud at a few of them.

In my opinion, the best personal account of Nureyev is Rudi van Dantzig's wonderful bio, "Trail of a Comet." That is one amazing look at Nureyev, very personal, but without a trace of gossip. Van Dantzig was/is a Dutch choreographer, Nureyev wanted to dance his dances, and did.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "meldrew05" on October 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book to me on a marvellous journey of discovery. Always enamoured with the theatre and having seen Nureyev perform years ago, this book opened up the world of backstage life and truly the Real Nureyev to me. The descriptions of backstage life were page-turning and to learn first hand about this amazing Icon of the 20th century was very precious.
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