CONVERSATIONS WITH BERENSON by Umberto Morra

CONVERSATIONS WITH BERENSON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For Bernard Berenson, conversation was ""equally a 'game of the spirit' and total concern."" Count Morra, attuned to B.B. by background and qualities, made a record of their conversations, unknown to B.B., from 1931 to 1940. Here is that paragon of aristocratic and aesthetic elegance with wit unfoiled, his intelligence and intellect poised. Berenson is fascinated with America, annoyed with the French, appalled at the Germans (""there's something fundamentally violent and barbaric in the German spirit, as though they were three centuries behind the rest of the civilized world""); he is interested in every form of art, essentially of course the visual, but also the verbal (""Michelangelo should have died at the age of forty,"" D. H. Lawrence should have been a historian); he waxes ecstatic over Dante Gabriel Rossetti (""the path of enchantment""), wanes exclusive over Freud (""a Jew from the ghetto""). B.B. on B.B.: ""I am one of the few last remaining people who love art in itself, not as archeology, or as paleontology, or as chemistry""... ""I was born for sensual contemplation."" There are bons mots as well on the ages and experience of man. A highly civilized pleasure.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1965
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin