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New novel about Tanaquil Le Clercq and Balanchine"The Master's Muse" by Varley O'Connor


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#76 dirac

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 12:05 PM


Wow, great review by Joel Lobenthal: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/culture/2012/02/5366853/muse-many-faces-ballerina-tanaquil-le-clercqs-life-and-times-and-aft

He should write a pictorial biography since he wrote such a great article in Ballet Review.


I don't find it a good "review" really. However the information he provides is very interesting and appears to be factual. As it has been
said, time for Lobenthal and Brubach to team together and produce that tome!


The article is actually a generally favorable review of the book.

Why wouldn't a biography violate Le Clercq's privacy as much, if not more, than this novel? Lobenthal notes that Le Clercq's father was a lush and there was much tension with Mom. I didn't know that before, but I do now......

#77 Brioche

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 12:36 PM


I don't agree about the review and that is my prerogative. He calls her out on a number of "details" AND what he shares is from his research and his association with those who knew her. Not invented fictional thoughts told in the fictional first person.




#78 dirac

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:38 PM

We're all free to disagree here, of course. However, I think it's quite a stretch to call Lobenthal's review a negative one and readers can make that judgment for themselves. My point was that if the preservation of Le Clercq's treasured privacy is the concern, as many seem to suggest, a full biography is potentially just as invasive as a respectful and sensitive piece of fiction based on fact, if not more so.

#79 kfw

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:44 PM

My point was that if the preservation of Le Clercq's treasured privacy is the concern, as many seem to suggest, a full biography is potentially just as invasive as a respectful and sensitive piece of fiction based on fact, if not more so.


We don’t know if L’Clerq would have seen a good posthumous biography as a violation of her privacy, or if she wouldn’t have cared what people wrote after she was gone. But we do know that a good biography isn’t pretending to be something it’s not, and that a good biographer respects his subject in refusing to engage in wholesale speculation. I can understand a writer being moved by L’Clerq’s story and wanting to use it. But she should also be able to understand that for people like me, for whom L’Clerq is at the top of the list of dancers I wish I’d seen, the author’s project seems tasteless.

It seems like the heart of the dispute here is who L’Clerq’s legacy belongs to, a casual ballet fan who stumbles upon her story, or the kind of fans who go out of their way to find out all that can truly be known about her and her dancing. L’Clerq may have said neither. But I wouldn’t pretend to put words in her mouth.

#80 dirac

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 02:22 PM

To each his own, as they say.

#81 Neryssa

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 03:54 PM

[font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif][size=3]I don't know what to say: a lot has been published already.[/size][/font]

[font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif][size=3]Moira Shearer first published rumours about Le Clercq and the canal water in Venice but I always thought that was some kind of urban myth. Reading about that again was painful.[/size][/font]
[font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif][size=3]Barbara Milberg Fisher briefly mentioned Le Clercq's father (and his drinking) in her literary memoirs In Balanchine's Company. I thought her chapter on Le Clercq's polio was well written and tasteful but I remember feeling devastated after reading it. I thought the implications were enormous; Le Clercq did not develop polio overnight as it is often written but within a week or two of receiving questionable treatment by persons who were not doctors. After reading the latest biography of Lincoln Kirstein which mentioned Balanchine's illness and tuberculosis during the 1930s and Balanchine's unusual ideas about medicine and doctors, I knew that it wasn't just my interpretative reading of Milberg Fisher's memoirs...[/size][/font]
[font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif][size=3]Is all of this better left unsaid or unwritten, I don't think so but I wish O'Connor had consulted primary sources and written in the third person.[/size][/font]

#82 kfw

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 07:45 PM

To each his own, as they say.


I don't think so. We disagree about what's tasteful, respectful and classy, and what's not, but that doesn't make them to-each-his-own questions.

#83 joelrw

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 08:42 AM


To each his own, as they say.


I don't think so. We disagree about what's tasteful, respectful and classy, and what's not, but that doesn't make them to-each-his-own questions.


Sure it does. To-each-his-own questions are those that are value oriented, and cannot be resolved in some sort of objective fashion. Whether Lobenthal's review is positive or negative seems to be the issue here. One person writes positive, another negative, ergo to each his own.

Personally, I found the review quite positive. Recall that Lobenthal's final sentence was this:

Yet I was glad, as I read the novel, that this extraordinary artist and woman had stimulated yet another imaginative act of creation.

#84 Neryssa

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 09:05 AM

[size=3][font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif]

Personally, I found the review quite positive. Recall that Lobenthal's final sentence was this:

Yet I was glad, as I read the novel, that this extraordinary artist and woman had stimulated yet another imaginative act of creation.

[/font][/size]

[size=3][font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif]Minor quibble: Le Clercq was not proactive in stimulating O'Connor's imagination. O'Connor projected her own ideas on a fascinating story; obviously, the author was influenced by her father's experience with polio. However, Lobenthal is correct when he discusses Le Clercq's ambivalence. She could have destroyed her personal correspondence and archive as Balanchine instructed Lincoln Kirstein to do with a portion of his papers (from the 1950s?). Anyway, thank god we have the correspondence between Le Clercq and Robbins. It was so touching to read in Amanda Vaill's biography of Robbins.[/font][/size]

#85 kfw

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:33 AM



To each his own, as they say.


I don't think so. We disagree about what's tasteful, respectful and classy, and what's not, but that doesn't make them to-each-his-own questions.


Sure it does. To-each-his-own questions are those that are value oriented, and cannot be resolved in some sort of objective fashion. Whether Lobenthal's review is positive or negative seems to be the issue here. One person writes positive, another negative, ergo to each his own.


For me the issue is the book, not the review. Anyhow, I imagine we can agree that while values disagreements can’t always be resolved, they can be illuminated by discussions like the one on this thread. “To each his own” suggests it’s a purely private matter, a matter of mere taste. To which I would reply, there is good taste and bad..

#86 dirac

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 11:16 AM

You seem to be taking a harder line than you did earlier in the thread, where you said that you weren't knocking O'Connor for taking up the subject. To each his own, though.

#87 kfw

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 11:33 AM

You seem to be taking a harder line than you did earlier in the thread, where you said that you weren't knocking O'Connor for taking up the subject.


I'm trying to show respect to the author, but I think she made a poor decision.

To each his own, though.


Meaning you do think there is no right or wrong here? Then why express an opinion?

#88 Neryssa

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 06:00 PM

Does anybody have access to Publisher's Weekly. Usually I do through my University library. However, I am unable to access it from home for some reason. Here is an excerpt from an article by Varley O'Connor from the March 16 edition:

Finding the Truth in Fiction
A novelist defends delving into the psyche of famous women
By Varley O'Connor
Mar 16, 2012
In a recent New York Times T magazine article, Holly Brubach, a writer I admire and a friend of Tanaquil Le Clercq, took umbrage at my audacity for depicting the life of the late great ballerina and fifth wife of George Balanchine in my forthcoming novel, The Master's Muse. Brubach contends that fiction which imagines the lives of "real, usually famous people" aren't novels at all, but a sort of lesser form, "custom-made for a culture fixated on celebrity." Examples she cites are Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife: A Novel and Ann Beattie's Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life. I assume she would include Paula McLain's The Paris Wife and Nancy Horan's Loving Frank, two recent books in the category that have captivated many readers.

#89 joelrw

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 06:15 PM

The entire piece had been available to subscribers only, but it is now available here:

http://www.publisher...in-fiction.html

The PW review can be found here:

http://www.publisher...8-1-4516-5538-4

#90 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 03:03 PM

Tobi Tobias published a short comment on this book in her web column. Here is the link.


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