ISADORA:  A SENSATIONAL LIFE

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“Isadora Duncan is one of the greatest women I have ever known … Sometimes I think she IS the greatest woman I have ever known.” – Auguste Rodin

“It is quite certain that no other American woman has so impressed the world outside of America—made such a mighty stir, commanded such a following at home and abroad . . . left behind her such a legend of personality and such a trail of effects." –  New York Times, 1928

"Come away!  her dancing says.  Come out into the splendid perilous world!  Come up on the mountain-top where the great wind blows!  Learn to be young always!  Learn to be incessantly renewed!  Learn to live in the intemperate careless land of song and rhythm and rapture!  Say farewell to the world you know and join the passionate spirits of the world’s history!  Storm through into your dreams!  Give yourself up to the frenzy that is in the heart of life, and never look back, and never regret!" – Robert Edmond Jones (“The Gloves of Isadora”), 1947

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"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)

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ISADORA DUNCAN 1877-1927

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ISADORA:  A SENSATIONAL LIFE