Review Of "Diaghilev: A Life" By S. Scheijen

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Scheijen (an independent scholar and historian of Russian art) provides a comprehensive, well-balanced chronicle of the professional and personal life of the famous, and infamous, Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev (1872-1929). For more than 30 years, Diaghilev instigated and stewarded one of the 20th century's most significant revolutionary "communities" of avant-garde artists, first in Russia then in western Europe. A substantial addition to the literature on Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes, the book benefits from Scheijen's access to and selective use of materials from previously inaccessible Russian archives. The author uses excerpts from journals, correspondence, and memoirs to reveal the perspectives of Diaghilev's colleagues and intimates, e.g., Igor Stravinsky, Alexandre Benois, Nijinsky, Bronislava Nijinska. Throughout, Scheijen is circumspect in not pressing his own point of view, encouraging readers to consider the complexity of Diaghilev's life and ambitions. Diaghilev emerges as an indefatigable creative force whose love of czarist Russia's arts and traditions coexisted with his passion to envision and enable the rise of neoclassical dance theater in Europe and the Americas. This is a tumultuous story, and the author articulates it further in some hundred pages of notes, bibliographic entries, and illustrations. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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