By Robert Gottlieb
Every thing approximately Sarah Bernhardt is interesting, from her vague beginning to her wonderful career—redefining the very nature of her art—to her remarkable (and hugely public) romantic lifestyles to her indomitable spirit. good into her seventies, after the amputation of her leg, she was once appearing below bombardment for infantrymen in the course of global conflict I, in addition to crisscrossing the US on her 9th American tour.
Her relatives was once additionally a resource of interest: the mummy she loved and who scorned her; her half-sisters, who died younger after lives of dissipation; and such a lot of all, her son, Maurice, whom she worshiped and raised as an aristocrat, within the sort acceptable to his presumed father, the Belgian Prince de Ligne. just once did they quarrel—over the Dreyfus Affair. Maurice was once a right-wing snob; Sarah, continuously pleased with her Jewish history, was once a passionate Dreyfusard and Zolaist.
Though the Bernhardt literature is gigantic, Gottlieb’s Sarah is the 1st English-language biography to seem in a long time. Brilliantly, it tracks the trajectory by which an illegitimate—and scandalous—daughter of a courtesan remodeled herself into the main recognized actress who ever lived, and right into a nationwide icon, a logo of France.
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Extra resources for Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt
Five minutes later they’re sitting next to each other on a bench; half an hour later they depart as close friends. ” A quiet dinner is proposed and agreed to. They meet once a week or so until she makes the frightful discovery that she’s going to become a mother. Going straight to the prince’s new mansion, where he’s hosting a housewarming party, she sends in her card and he comes out to greet her. Her news doesn’t go down well, and she starts to make a scene. At last, writes Colombier, Dygne loses patience and grows hard and cutting.
Then she stands up and marches around like a circus clown, munching on chocolates she carries in her bag and ﬁxing her lipstick. There’s nothing more charming than watching Sarah and Croizette, their mothers in tow [in Sarah’s case, of course, Mme Guérard], exiting the theater together like two startled goddesses, noses up in the air, their straw hats perched on top of their huge blond hair-dos, twirling their parasols, chattering and laughing at the top of their voices, heading for Chibouste’s patisserie where they’ll stuff themselves with cake.
Régis, Sarah reports in her memoirs, said to her, “Well, you were a failure. Why persist in going in for the theater? You’re thin and you’re small. Your face isn’t bad close to, but at a distance it’s ugly. ” No wonder she was in despair when she went to bed that night. “Had there been any poison at hand I would have taken it,” she told Thérèse Berton. And then, at midnight, a note was slipped under her door by Mme Guérard: “While you were sleeping, the duc de Morny sent word to your mother telling her that your engagement at the Comédie-Française is conﬁrmed.