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My Life Paperback – March 17, 1996

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Liveright; Reissue edition (March 17, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871401584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871401588
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,305,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great reading and especially for writer's, dancers, creative artists, and anyone who can appreciate an original thinker. She is so original and so deep in her views and understanding of so much of life and personal expression that she is more than what she is commonly credited or recognized as (an innovative dancer that completely changed the future of dance in her time) She is an artist and brilliant woman in many ways including being way ahead of her times in her artistic expression and appreciation of art but also very much in regards to so many issues, political, spiritual, and human rights/relations/interactions, and more. this is a thoroughly enriching book to read even for those who may not have considered it so.
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Format: Paperback
I knew nothing about Isadora Duncan, the highly creative dancer, before I picked up a copy of her charming autobiography. It is only because I had recently discovered that she had spent some time in Albania, a country that fascinates me and about which I have written, that I decided to read this book.

The book was highly enjoyable. She writes well and makes frequent allusions to, and uses quotes from, the great classical authors and also from Nietzche and other more recent writers. I felt that Isadora was trying in her flamboyant way to give a reasonably accurate account of her colourful life. It was a life of tragedy and triumph, liberally spiced with a series of lovers who never failed to help her with her career and her life problems, including the sad loss of her three children. She was privileged to have met and been admired by great personalities such as Stanislavsky, Rodin, d'Annunzio, and Eleanora Duse. She married the Russian poet Essenin briefly, but that part of her life is not recorded in her book.

As for Albania, there are only a few pages dedicated to her brief time there. Frustratingly, her autobiography ends with the invitation she received to set up a dance school in the young Soviet Union in about 1921.

The autobiography has gripped me sufficiently to make me want to read a good biography of Isadora.

Review by author of "From Albania to Sicily"
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