Synopses & Reviews
The astonishing, legendary diaries of the great dancer, complete and unexpurgated
In December 1917, Vaslav Nijinsky, the most famous male dancer in the Western world, moved into a Swiss villa with his wife and three-year-old daughter and began to go mad. This diary, which he kept in four notebooks over six weeks, is the only sustained, on-the-spot written account we have by a major artist of the experience of entering psychosis.
Nijinsky's diary was first published in 1936, in a heavily bowdlerized version that omitted almost half of his text. The present edition, translated by Kyril FitzLyon, is the first complete version in English and the first version in any language to include the fourth notebook, which was written at the very edge of madness. It contains Nijinsky's last lucid thoughts--on God, sex, war, and the nature of the universe, as well as on his own broken life. In her Introduction, the noted dance writer Joan Acocella explains the context of the diary and its place in the history of modernism.
"These diaries, written in six weeks before Nijinksy's thirtieth birthday, give us the end of his brief life as a dancer, the beginning of his thirty years as a madman. They are instructive, unbearable, necessary texts, the shadow of a legend and the lineaments of an entranced shamanism which has become inseparable from our notions of genius, even of art. Joan Acocella leads us through this infernal maze with sorrowing and exemplary acuity, and the appalling book, now in its complete form, is certainly exhibit A in the gallery of creative shame." --Richard Howard
"We finally have a complete and faithful translation of what Nijinsky actually wrote. Kyril FitzLyon's redition from the Russian is subbornly colloquial, while Joan Acocella provides a lucid preface and comprehensive annotion."--Daniel Gesmer, The New York Times
"This moving document...begs fresh interpretations of [Nijinsky's] life, artistry, ideas and psychological history."--Daniel Gesmer, The New York Times
About the Author
is the dance critic of The New Yorker
, author of Mark Morris
(FSG, 1993), and co-author of the textbook Abnormal Psychology
Kyril Fitz Lyon has translated Tolstoy, Chekhov, and others from Russian and French.