The greatest dancer of her time, Isadora Duncan invented her own language to
express the spirit and world-wide hope of American democracy.  A pioneer in the
dance world and the women's movement, her name is synonymous with originality,
spontaneity, and intrigue.  "Art meant Isadora," said John Dos Passos:  "Art was
whatever Isadora did."  Finally, here is a biography that does justice to the
life of this unforgettable woman.  Here is her full life: her many loves, her
passion for her art, her sensational performances, and her personal tragedies -
set against the sweeping backdrop of Europe and the United States in the early
twentieth century.  

"We may never know whether 'one must have seen Isadora Duncan to die happy,' as
one of her contemporaries claimed, but one way to live happily, at least for a
few days, is to read Peter Kurth's Isadora.  Exhaustively researched,
intelligently rendered, it becomes, in its lovingly judicious and ultimately
explosive unfurling, the definitive portrait of this - in the words of one of the
few men not her lover - 'figure of mourning and flame.'" - J. D. Landis, author
of Longing

"The most famous woman of the first quarter of the 20th century may have been
Mary Pickford, but the most influential, and the most notorious, was Isadora
Duncan.  She was the progenitor and soul of a new art form, modern dance.  She
was the prototype of the uninhibited young American whose freshness and
originality charmed jaded old Europe.  And for decades she startled respectable
society - even as she helped transform it - with her flouting of conventions,
both onstage and off.  You would have to go back to George Sand or Byron to find
a comparably galvanizing figure. : And now there is Peter Kurth, sardonic yet
appreciative, neither adoring nor denigrating. : He has stylishly synthesized the
literature to give us the fullest and most coherent account of the life to date.
: Excellent." - Robert Gottlieb, The New York Times Book Review

"Peter Kurth has written the best biography we have of an astonishing and often
underrated woman.  He writes so well that only the weight of paper will
occasionally remind you of his subject's amplitude. : Working from an assembly of
sources vast enough to make you dizzy, he succeeds in making you love, hate and
honor America's greatest dancer, sometimes all at once.  Earlier biographies have
tended to focus on her, just as Isadora herself did.  Kurth does better by giving
vivid portraits of the lovers, friends and pupils whose voices make up a diverse
chorus. :  Shrewdly, he gives space not only to Isadora's wonderfully feckless
chum, Mary Desti, the creator of the scarf that throttled her, but to Preston
Sturges, Desti's film-making son.  Preston's amused, slightly spiky voice is, you
will find, the one closest to Kurth's own in this marvelously rich and well-told
book.   Isadora deserves to be taught as well as read; this is how biography
should be written."- Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times (London)

"Mr. Kurth has : absorbed the material, like a dancer lodging choreography in
muscle memory, and distilled the considerable detail into an immensely readable
and poignant evocation of Duncan's tumultuous life:.  Even sophisticated dance
readers are likely to find their own revelations about Duncan's art in the
minutiae of her life and career, reported by Mr. Kurth at a discreet, sometimes
amused distance from a subject he clearly admires in spite of himself." -
Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times 

"Peter Kurth has done a heroic job recreating this charismatic, complicated and
ultimately deeply tragic figure, born in the heyday of the railroads and dead
before the Great Depression.  Isadora: A Sensational Life - all 652 evocative,
authoritative, sumptuously detailed pages of it - will likely become the standard
biography.  Kurth seems to have read everything that has been written about her;
and while he lets critics, scholars and (most valuably) those who saw her dance
sum up the evanescent Duncan artistry, he gives us the woman herself." - Tim
Page, The Washington Post

"Today, almost 75 years after her death, Isadora Duncan's name is still a
household word (at least in some households). : One of the virtues of Peter
Kurth's excellent and engrossing new biography is to explain not only how this
happened, but why. : There was a purity and seriousness to Duncan, and it's one
of Kurth's virtues that -- while he hasn't stinted on the juicy gossip -- he pays
real attention to this. And he does so by letting her speak for herself,
something she often did with a clarity and originality surprising for someone
with a reputation for fuzzy-headed vaporizing." - Amanda Vaill, Chicago Tribune

"The first definitive biography written of the woman who did for movement what
Picasso did for visual art:. Meticulously researched, exhaustively detailed,
intelligently and bouncingly written, with an eye to the larger social and
historical trends that enabled a genius like Isadora to make such an explosive
impact on the development of 20th-century art, Kurth quotes source after source
who saw her as the reincarnation of the Great Mother figure.  She nurtured and
she destroyed.  Carnal urges drove her - she lived toward the end of her life on
a diet of booze and boys.  But she was awesome, sacred as a cloud-ringed
mountaintop." - Deirdre Kelly, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"I would read anything written by Peter Kurth-his Anastasia had me walking round
the house all day deep in the book until it was finished. Now at last we have a
thorough study of Isadora Duncan which is compelling all the way to its
terrifying conclusion." -- Hugo Vickers, author of Cecil Beaton, Vivien Leigh,
Loving Garbo, and The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor

"A delightful read, a riveting account, written with grace and style, of a
fascinating and extraordinary life." -- Gerald Clarke, author of Get Happy:  The
Life of Judy Garland and Capote:  A Biography
ISADORA DUNCAN -- 1877-1927


I was racing against death when I signed up to write Isadora Duncan's biography
-- and winning wouldn't even be my strangest adventure along the way.


The author of the new biography of Isadora Duncan discusses the legendary dancer
whose short life was a whirlwind of art, stormy love affairs and tragedy.


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