|Pages/Publication Date:||206 / 2013|
In a triptych of indelible portraits, Nicholas Delbanco gives us three great creative spirits who lived colorful, productive lives before dying in their 20s or 30s: writer Stephen Crane (The Red Badge of Courage), British artist Dora Carrington (called "the most neglected serious painter of her time"), and legendary composer George Gershwin (Rhapsody in Blue; Porgy and Bess). Delbanco—also the author of Lastingness: The Art of Old Age—discovers what it is we mourn in artists who pass away so young, and muses on his own life, one marked by both early success and longevity.
"Invites us to ask the timeless question of how artistic vitality—its energy, originality, and enthusiasm—can be maintained beyond youth into the blessing of a productive old age."—Charles Johnson
"Seeking to inhabit the inner and outer worlds of his intriguing subjects, Delbanco bridges indisputable facts and persistent mysteries. He ponders writer Stephen Crane's (18711900) distinguished lineage and self-immolating ways as he wrote indelible literature and hack work until tuberculosis claimed his life. British painter Dora Carrington (18931932) evinced tremendous capability even as a student, but her inexplicable self-censoring impulse smothered her artistic impetus, and then, after the death of her dear companion, writer Lytton Strachey, she committed suicide. Delbanco's zestfully incisive profile of exuberantly creative and prolific composer George Gershwin (18981937) proves that precocity can be a happy state. If only Gershwin's brain tumor had been detected in time. Delbanco ends with a bittersweet account of his own meteoric start, complicating assumptions about his place, as the author of more than two dozen books, in the 'lasting' category."—Booklist