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You gu gu and I gu gu

Andrew O’Hagan: Vaslav Nijinsky

20 July 2000
The Diary of Vaslav​ Nijinsky 
edited by Joan Acocella and Kyril Fitzylon.
Allen Lane, 312 pp., £20, August 1999, 0 7139 9354 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Macmillan, 396 pp., £12, May 2000, 0 333 76622 9
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... Nijinsky began to lose his mind in a Swiss village in 1919. He was only 29 years old, still dazzling, animal-like, an Aschenbach vision on the Lido, a young man who could jump and pause in the air: but he ...

God in the Body

Anne Hollander

25 January 1996
Cahiers: Le Sentiment 
by Nijinsky, translated into French by Christian Dumais-Lvorski and Galina Pogojeva.
Actes Sud, 300 pp., frs 140, January 1995, 2 7427 0314 4
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... book is a cry of pure pain, immensely difficult to read without groaning and sometimes weeping and getting up to pace the floor. Its flavour is aptly illustrated by the shocking jacket photograph of Nijinsky undergoing a catatonic seizure at the age of 37, about eight years after he wrote this text. With his necktie neatly knotted, his face shaven and his hair combed, hands curled up, the greatest dancer ...
1 July 1982
Early Memoirs 
by Bronislava Nijinska, translated by Irina Nijinska and Jean Rawlinson.
Faber, 546 pp., £15, January 1982, 0 571 11892 5
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... of Glinka’s A Life for the Czar. During Act Two Eleanora Nijinska was taken to hospital and another dancer took her place. When the curtain came down on Act Three a messenger arrived to tell Thomas Nijinsky that he had a daughter. He already had two sons: Stanislav, aged four, and Vaslav, later le dieu de la danse, who was two. Bronislava Nijinska grew up to be one of the few choreographers of any ...

Burn Down the Museum

Stephanie Burt: The Poetry of Frank Bidart

6 November 2008
Watching the Spring Festival 
by Frank Bidart.
Farrar, Straus, 61 pp., $25, April 2008, 978 0 374 28603 3
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... The War allowed me to project, – to EMBODY, – an ultimate ‘aspect’ of the ‘self’ … Such extreme typesetting reflects extreme states of mind: the speaker here is the great dancer VaslavNijinsky, depicted in 1919 as he goes mad. If you read the books in order you will also learn early on about Bidart’s early life. Raised far from privilege, and far from the world’s great ...

Half Snake, Half Panther

James Davidson: Nijinsky

26 September 2013
Nijinsky 
by Lucy Moore.
Profile, 324 pp., £25, May 2013, 978 1 84668 618 4
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... during the war that followed the Russian Revolution. Eventually, in 1921, she managed to escape with her elderly mother and two small children and made her way to Vienna. When we entered his room Vaslav was sitting in an armchair; he did not get up to greet us. Mother rushed to embrace him, but Vaslav showed no emotional reaction on seeing his mother. He remained withdrawn into himself, also when I ...

To the Great God Pan

Laura Jacobs: Goddess Isadora

23 October 2013
My Life: The Restored Edition 
by Isadora Duncan.
Norton, 322 pp., £12.99, June 2013, 978 0 87140 318 6
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... But from ‘the day they were killed until the day of her own death, she was Niobe’. Which is another way of saying that Duncan didn’t, couldn’t, live by halves. In many ways she was like VaslavNijinsky, Adam to her Eve in the sense that both left the encircled, Edenic world of classical dance – Duncan rejecting it completely, Nijinsky slipping out by way of his choreography – for a ...

Keepers

Andrew Scull

29 September 1988
Mind Forg’d Manacles: A History of Madness in England from the Restoration to the Regency 
by Roy Porter.
Athlone, 412 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 485 11324 4
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The Past and the Present Revisited 
by Lawrence Stone.
Routledge, 440 pp., £19.95, October 1987, 0 7102 1253 4
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Sufferers and Healers: The Experience of Illness in 17th-Century England 
by Lucinda McCray Beier.
Routledge, 314 pp., £30, December 1987, 0 7102 1053 1
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Illness and Self in Society 
by Claudine Herzlich and Janine Pierret, translated by Elborg Forster.
Johns Hopkins, 271 pp., £20.25, January 1988, 0 8018 3228 4
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Medicine and Society in Wakefield and Huddersfield 1780-1870 
by Hilary Marland.
Cambridge, 503 pp., £40, September 1987, 0 521 32575 7
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A Social History of Madness: Stories of the Insane 
by Roy Porter.
Weidenfeld, 261 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 297 79223 7
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... what mad people meant to say, what was on their minds’. The cast of characters includes Nietzsche, Cowper and John Clare; Sylvia Plath, Laing’s Mary Barnes and Freud’s Dora; Robert Schumann and VaslavNijinsky; and poor George III, in his declining years a living facsimile of Lear. There are also other, less familiar figures. There is, for instance, the remarkable Alexander Cruden, the self-styled ...

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