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Nancy Cunard: Heiress, Muse, Political Idealist

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9780231139380: Nancy Cunard: Heiress, Muse, Political Idealist
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Lois Gordon's absorbing biography tells the story of a writer, activist, and cultural icon who embodied the dazzling energy and tumultuous spirit of her age, and whom William Carlos Williams once called "one of the major phenomena of history." Nancy Cunard (1896-1965) led a life that surpasses Hollywood fantasy. The only child of an English baronet (and heir to the Cunard shipping fortune) and an American beauty, Cunard abandoned the world of a celebrated socialite and Jazz Age icon to pursue a lifelong battle against social injustice as a wartime journalist, humanitarian aid worker, and civil rights champion. Cunard fought fascism on the battlefields of Spain and reported firsthand on the atrocities of the French concentration camps. Intelligent and beautiful, she romanced the great writers of her era, including three Nobel Prize winners, and was the inspiration for characters in the works of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley, Pablo Neruda, Samuel Beckett, and Ernest Hemingway, among others. Cunard was also a prolific poet, publisher, and translator and, after falling in love with a black American jazz pianist, became deeply committed to fighting for black rights. She edited the controversial anthology Negro, the first comprehensive study of the achievement and plight of blacks around the world. Her contributors included Langston Hughes, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Zora Neale Hurston, among scores of others. Cunard's personal life was as complex as her public persona. Her involvement with the civil rights movement led her to be ridiculed and rejected by both family and friends. Throughout her life, she was plagued by insecurities and suffered a series of breakdowns, struggling with a sense of guilt over her promiscuous behavior and her ability to survive so much war and tragedy. Yet Cunard's writings also reveal an immense kindness and wit, as well as her renowned, often flamboyant defiance of prejudiced social conventions. Drawing on diaries, correspondence, historical accounts, and the remembrances of others, Lois Gordon revisits the major movements of the first half of the twentieth century through the life of a truly gifted and extraordinary woman. She also returns Nancy Cunard to her rightful place as a major figure in the historical, social, and artistic events of a critical era.

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Review:

A worthy biography of the Jazz Age beauty who mesmerized Pound and Elliot.--Megan O'Grady "Vogue "

[Lois Gordon] vividly reconstructs the Cunard legend and brings her back to life.--Carla Kaplan "The Nation "

[An] immensely detailed biography.--Sarah Mower "The Daily Telegraph (UK) "

Gordon provides a perfect illustration of Cunard's fascinating, moving life...your perfect summertime read.--Jen Ortiz "Social Life Magazine "

[A] fine biography-extremely well researched and felicitously written.--Mary V. Dearborn "American Book Review "

This able, diligently researched biography... revives the memory of a remarkable woman against the backdrop of major 20th-century events.--Publishers Weekly

Here is a fascinating life story, delivered in absorbing detail.--New York Daily News

This extraordinary life has been well served by Gordon.--The Australian

A fascinating and ultimately poignant story.--Modernism/Modernity

Gordon brings a literary sensibility, a historian's insight, and psychological fluency to her groundbreaking and alternately mesmerizing and shattering biography.--Booklist

About the Author:

Lois Gordon, distinguished professor of English at Fairleigh Dickinson University, is internationally known for her work in drama and American culture. She is the author of the first book in the United States on Harold Pinter, and her most recent books include Pinter at 70; The World of Samuel Beckett, 1906-1946; Reading Godot; and American Chronicle: Year by Year Through the Twentieth Century, a classic reference on American culture.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9788477652663: Nancy Cunard (Biografia)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10: 847765266X ISBN 13: 9788477652663
Publisher: Circe, 2008
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9780231139397: Nancy Cunard: Heiress, Muse, Political Idealist

Columb..., 2009
Softcover

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