VANESSA REDGRAVE by Vanessa Redgrave


An Autobiography
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 In keeping with celebrity autobiographies, Redgrave offers a tell-all memoir--except that the passions she reveals are for politics, not sex. Theater and film star, daughter and mother of famous actors, Redgrave writes about her life, her craft, and her very controversial politics. But where other actors grow tiresome in describing their love lives, Redgrave does the same in talking about her 20-year affair with the Marxist Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party. And instead of spicing her book with nasty comments about fellow artists, she directs her bile toward capitalists, imperialists, neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, and, of course, Zionists. Of all the controversial causes with which Redgrave has been associated, she is best known--and, in some circles, most hated--for her antipathy toward Zionism and support for the Palestinians. Redgrave offers no apologies here for any of her political beliefs, nor does she express any regrets for the many roles, especially in Hollywood and on Broadway, that she has lost because of her activism, particularly on behalf of the Palestinians. Redgrave, who has refused for years to talk to journalists about her politics, uses this book to present her case, and it is as much a treatise as a memoir. The politics often stop the flow of the book, especially when she segues from a fascinating discussion of how she played a certain role to a tedious discourse on such a topic as dialectic materialism--the movie Isadora gives way to the war in Vietnam, Macbeth to her Hollywood lectures on Marxism. Overall, however, Redgrave's sincerity overwhelms both skepticism and boredom. The result is a book that should fascinate anyone who cares about how an artist's inner life illuminates and motivates his or her work. Redgrave's central premise is that she would not have been half the actor she is if she had led a different life. She makes this case so convincingly that the reader is left wanting to go back and see every part she has played--more often than not brilliantly--with the new eye this book provides.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-40216-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1994


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