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The Real Traviata: The Song of Marie Duplessis Paperback – March 24, 2019
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"Weis powerfully delineates the social forces that victimized Duplessis, while still managing to convey the independence of spirit that made her so captivating." -- The New Yorker
"[A] superbly readable and meticulously researched biography... It is hard to think of a more dramatic life, from a horrific childhood to the glamour of high society, and Weis tells it with operatic pathos." -- The Sunday Times
"Not for opera buffs only; also beneficial for European history and arts collections."-- Library Journal
"With his study The Real Traviata: The Song of Marie Duplessis René Weis offers us a meticulously researched biography of the woman who inspired the art of Alexandre Dumas and Giuseppe Verdi, a densely layered account of demi-mondain Paris in the mid-nineteenth century, and an ode to the cultural, literary, and musical legends Duplessis left as her legacy. Weis's exhaustive research garners a rich trove of archival, documentary, literary, and visual materials..." -- Nineteenth-Century French Studies
"The Real Traviata offers the fullest account we have of Marie Duplessis, her cultural universe, and her successive mythologization... In the range of exciting documentation he has uncovered, Weis highlights the limits of her first nineteenth-century biographer, Romain Vienne." -- European History Quarterly
"Weis's ability in making this work not only a masterpiece of research, but also a captivating book, is truly admirable. The author operates detailed reconstructions and descriptions of the locations and contexts where the events took place and frequently uses the accounts of eyewitnesses, the abundance of sources always paired up with an expressive and deeply empathic, yet clear and objective tone ... Finally, the author operates a continuous, deep contextualization of the story he tells within the wider historical, social and cultural context, tirelessly linking events and details to coeval society, artists and debates, making--in a word--Marie Duplessis a catalyst for many other stories. This book thus appeals with equal strength not only to theatre, opera, society and literature historians, but also to all those who wish to uncover a story that is able like few others to connect facts, personalities and great works of art." -- H-France
"Ultimately, through this book, Weis strives to bring humanity and empathy back to the characters of opera through one heroine in particular...This possibility alone makes The Real Traviata a worthwhile read above all else."--Kristin Seikaly, Taminophile.com
About the Author
René Weis is a freelance author and Professor of English at University College London. He has a written on a wide variety of subjects, including Edith Thompson (of the infamous 'Thompson and Bywaters' murder case in the 1920s), the last Cathar insurgency in the Pyrenees in the Middle Ages, and a biography of Shakespeare. As a professional Shakespearian, he has published extensively on Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, his publications including editions of Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Henry IV Part 2, and an Oxford World's Classics edition of the works of John Webster. A lifelong lover of opera, he also contributes regular pieces to the programmes for Royal Opera House productions.
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Really, this author revealed nothing startlingly new, but, like the Emperor's New Clothes, everyone jumped on the bandwagon of insisting this is the definitive biography -- per Opera News reviews and so forth - and that the volume is worth its cost 40 dollars, an amount for which I'm profoundly thankful I didn't have to pay.