SUNSET AND TWILIGHT by Bernard Berenson


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Before Brigitte Bardot, B.B. meant only Bernard Berenson; here the late great art critic continues his day-to-day jottings about where his WWII diary left off, running from 1947-58. The new book serves up a B.B. varyingly proud, prejudiced, pampered, plaintive, bored, bumptious, troubled, testy, solemn and sweet. You can have him, as they say, either a la carte or prix fixe: ""hugely clowing"" it lunch, unable ""to take up with"" Freud or Eliot, calling himself"" a picture-master, the way others are wine-and tea-tasters"", pouring out his ""ointment box of epithets"", lamenting his fame, like ""a showpiece under glass"", wriggling at the idea of being biographies, and parlaying in many passages the well-loved female from, the bubbling and babbling"" of women. You get his uncensored chatter on the inner circle who made the pilgrimage to I Tatti, his shrine, eg. Croce, Henry Moore, the Allen Tastes, etc. It goes on and on, and makes for some soul-searching and account-taking. By his own admission, B.B. was the Last Victorian with aesthetics his religion and a hierarchical society his realm. He was part of a ""natural aristocracy"" that ""made it ""; a ghetto Jew he assimilated via Harvard, Christian conversion and the Italian Renaissance. But as he grew old, he felt obsolete; when he was young he was ""delighted with being too good for all but the happy few... Now I am grieved to be of the few and not at all happy."" Can we believe him? B.B. and his pages remain a puzzle and a pleasure.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1963
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World