Wild Heart: A Life: Natalie Clifford Barney and the Decadence of Literary Paris

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Harper Collins, Oct 13, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 448 pages
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Born in 1876, Natalie Barney-beautiful, charismatic, brilliant and wealthy-was expected to marry well and lead the conventional life of a privileged society woman. But Natalie had no interest in marriage and made no secret of the fact that she was attracted to women. Brought up by a talented and rebellious mother-the painter Alice Barney-Natalie cultivated an interest in poetry and the arts. When she moved to Paris in the early 1900s, she plunged into the city's literary scene, opening a famed Left Bank literary salon and engaging in a string of scandalous affairs with courtesan Liane de Pougy, poet Renee Vivien, and painter Romaine Brooks, among others. For the rest of her long and controversial life Natalie Barney was revered by writers for her generous, eccentric spirit and reviled by high society for her sexual appetite. In the end, she served as an inspiration and came to know many of the greatest names of 20th century arts and letters-including Proust, Colette, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Isadora Duncan, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Truman Capote.

A dazzling literary biography, Wild Heart: A Life is a story of a woman who has been an icon to many. Set against the backdrop of two different societies-Victorian America and Belle Epoque Europe—Wild Heart: A Life beautifully captures the richness of their lore.


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Page 222 - I have a rendezvous with Death At some disputed barricade, When Spring comes back with rustling shade And apple-blossoms fill the air — I have a rendezvous with Death When Spring brings back blue days and fair. It may be he shall take my hand And lead me into his dark land And close my eyes and quench my breath — It may be I shall pass him still. I have a rendezvous with Death...
Page 19 - If you can look into the seeds of time, And say, which grain will grow, and which will not, Speak then to me, who neither beg, nor fear, Your favours, nor your hate.
Page 48 - Beware Of entrance to a quarrel ; but, being in, Bear 't that the opposed may beware of thee. Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice : Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Page 305 - Tis as the general pulse Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause ; An awful pause ! prophetic of her end.
Page 24 - From childhood's hour I have not been As others were — I have not seen As others saw — I could not bring My passions from a common spring. From the same source I have not taken My sorrow; I could not awaken My heart to joy at the same tone; And all I lov'd, I lov'd alone.
Page 291 - Valerie came forward with a smile of welcome. She was not beautiful nor was she imposing, but her limbs were very perfectly proportioned, which gave her a fictitious look of tallness. She moved well, with the quiet and unconscious grace that sprang from those perfect proportions. Her face was humorous, placid and worldly; her eyes very kind, very blue, very lustrous. She was dressed all in white, a large white fox skin was clasped round her slender and shapely shoulders.
Page 153 - The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece ! Where burning Sappho loved and sung, Where grew the arts of war and peace, Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung ! Eternal summer gilds them yet, But all, except their sun, is set.
Page 349 - ... any love is natural and beautiful that lies within a person's nature; only hypocrites would hold a man responsible for what he loves, emotional illiterates and those of righteous envy, who, in their agitated concern, mistake so frequently the arrow pointing to heaven for the one that leads to hell.
Page 301 - Thou, good Governor, wast expecting a Son when you lay atop of your Choosing, why then be so mortal wounded when you perceive that you have your Wish? Am I not doing after your very Desire, and is it not the more commendable, seeing that I do it without the Tools for the Trade, and yet nothing complain?

About the author (2009)

Suzanne Rodriguez is the author of Found Meals of the Lost Generation, a social history of Americans in Paris in the 1920s. She lives in California.

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