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The Worlds of Lincoln Kirsteinby Martin Duberman
Synopses & Reviews
A rich and revelatory biography of one of the crucial cultural figures of the twentieth century.
Lincoln Kirstein's contributions to the nation's life, as both an intellectual force and advocate of the arts, were unparalleled. While still an undergraduate, he started the innovative literary journal Hound and Horn, as well as the modernist Harvard Society for Contemporary Art-- forerunner of the Museum of Modern Art. He brought George Balanchine to the United States, and in service to the great choreographer's talent, persisted, against heavy odds, in creating both the New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet. Among much else, Kirstein helped create Lincoln Center in New York, and the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut; established the pathbreaking Dance Index and the country's first dance archives; and in some fifteen books proved himself a brilliant critic of art, photography, film, and dance.
But behind this remarkably accomplished and renowned public face lay a complex, contradictory, often tortured human being. Kirstein suffered for decades from bipolar disorder, which frequently strained his relationships with his family and friends, a circle that included many notables, from W. H. Auden to Nelson Rockefeller. And despite being married for more than fifty years to a woman whom he deeply loved, Kirstein had a wide range of homosexual relationships throughout the course of his life.
This stunning biography, filled with fascinating perceptions and incidents, is a major act of historical reclamation. Utilizing an enormous amount of previously unavailable primary sources, including Kirstein' suntapped diaries, Martin Duberman has rendered accessible for the first time a towering figure of immense complexity and achievement.
This rich and revelatory biography of Lincoln Kirstein, cofounder of the New York City Ballet and School of American Ballet, is filled with fascinating incidents and perceptions, and is being published for Kirstein's centenary. photos.
Finalist for 2008 Pulitzer Prize
Lincoln Kirstein was a tireless champion of the arts in America. Working behind the scenes to provide artists with money, space, audiences, and, at times, emotional support, he helped found such landmark cultural institutions as the New York City Ballet, the School of American Ballet, New Yorks Lincoln Center and Stratford's American Shakespeare Festival.
Duberman's biography sheds light on this lamentably neglected cultural figure. Though best known as a benefactor of the arts, Kirstein was also an adept critic, poet and novelist who published some fifteen books in his lifetime. From his undergraduate years at Harvard, where he established the influential literary magazine Hound and Horn, as well as the Harvard Society for Contemporary Art (precursor to the Modern Museum of Art), to his complex and historically significant relationship with George Balanchine, Kirstein's contributions were indespensible to the development of the arts in America.
Authoritative and elegant, Duberman's biography utilizes previously unavailable documents, including Kirstein's diaries, to reveal the keen eye, incessant self-doubt, and enormous ambition that drove Kirstein's relentless advocacy. The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein brings attention to an important, but until-now unappreciated figure whose individual contribution to the arts was one of the greatest of the twentieth century.
About the Author
Martin Duberman is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the City University of New York. He is the author of some twenty books, including Charles Francis Adams (winner of the Bancroft Prize); James Russell Lowell (finalist for the National Book Award); Paul Robeson (winner of the George Freedley Memorial Award); Left Out: The Politics of Exclusion, Essays 1964-2002; Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community; and Cures: A Gay Mans Odyssey. His recent novel Haymarket has been published in several languages. Dubermans play In White America won the Drama Desk Award. He lives in New York City.
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