Posted 28 December 2011 - 07:59 PM
I just finished the Kindle edition.
For the first 2/3 of the book, roughly until the byzantine workings of the various Ballets Russes splits, off-shoots, reorganizations, etc., the book is beautifully written, lucid, and organized. Once the Ballets Russes chapters begin, it read like a series of essays cobbled together, with repetition -- for example, Fleischmann, the businessman who financed the final sale of the company, is described three separate times -- and a mishmash of chronology that made cause-and-effect difficult to follow.
Blum comes across not only as one of the brilliant men of his era, erudite is many arts, and true to his upbringing, someone quite assured of his taste, but also as a mensch. Knowing that he would be interned and killed was a cloud over his story. He was not ruthless like Diaghilev, perhaps because he did not have to manipulate money from people to back his enterprises since he had institutional funding through the theater in Monte Carlo and a private fortune he spent on his ballet company, and, with the exception of one long-term relationship with the actress Josette France, didn't mix business with pleasure and seemed disinterested in creating emotional instability.