ARROGANCE by Joanna Scott


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Scott's third novel (Fading, My Parmacheene Belle; The Closest Possible Union) is the kind of book filmmakers like the quirky Ken Russell would love to film--lots of sex (some kinky), a tortured artist-hero, and a setting in fin de siècle Vienna. Moving backwards and forwards in time, Scott uses a range of voices to tell the story of the Austrian painter Egon Schiele. Each voice--Schiele's mistress Vallie; a young woman who knew him; his wife Edith; a patron; and Schiele himself--is supposed to add new information and further insights into what drove Schiele to paint the way he did. But Schiele is not hard to figure out--the episodes merely confirm the obvious diagnosis. A friend of Klimt and Kokoschka, Schiele was part of that wave of artistic innovation in the dying days of the Austrian Empire. Determined to be a painter of the new--to shock--Schiele began studying art as a young boy with little encouragement from his family. His father, who worked for the railways, resented his son's artistic precocity; his mother was tom in her loyalties; his younger sister, Gerti, was his only solace--a solace, Scott suggests, that was the wellspring of Schiele's ambition. Determined to live fully, he acquired a mistress, drew pictures of young gifts that were regarded as shocking, all the while longing for sister Gerti. Briefly imprisoned on a charge of pornography, Schiele was later drafted into the army in WW I and survived, only to succumb to the Spanish flu. He was only 28 years old. Somehow the man and the artist get lost in the shuffle here. Scott is a talented writer, but this isn't her best.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1990
ISBN: 0312423888
Publisher: Linden/Simon & Schuster