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Sybille Bedford (1911–2006)

Teoksen A Legacy tekijä

18+ teosta 2,597 jäsentä 33 arvostelua 8 Favorited

Tietoja tekijästä

Tekijän teokset

A Legacy (1956) 568 kappaletta, 6 arvostelua
A Visit to Don Otavio (1953) 366 kappaletta, 5 arvostelua
Jigsaw: An Unsentimental Education (1989) 351 kappaletta, 3 arvostelua
A Favourite of the Gods (1963) 284 kappaletta, 3 arvostelua
A Compass Error (1968) 245 kappaletta, 6 arvostelua
Quicksands: A Memoir (2005) 194 kappaletta, 5 arvostelua
Aldous Huxley: A Biography (1973) 193 kappaletta, 3 arvostelua
The Trial of Dr. Adams (1958) 106 kappaletta, 1 arvostelu
Pleasures and Landscapes (2003) 92 kappaletta, 1 arvostelu
The Faces of Justice (1961) 39 kappaletta

Associated Works

Merkitty avainsanalla


Kanoninen nimi
Bedford, Sybille
Muut nimet
von Schoenebeck, Sybille Aleid Elsa (nee)
Charlottenburg, Berlin, Germany
London, England, UK
Berlin, Germany
Sanary-sur-Mer, France
Chelsea, London, England, UK
Rome, Italy
California, USA (näytä kaikki 7)
Schloss Feldkirch, Baden, Germany
Huxley, Aldous (friend)
Palkinnot ja kunnianosoitukset
Royal Society of Literature Companion of Literature (1994)
Golden PEN Award (1993)
Order of the British Empire (Officer ∙ 1981)
Lyhyt elämäkerta
Sybille Aleid Elsa von Schoenebeck was born in the Charlottenberg district of Berlin, the daughter of a German aristocrat and his German-Jewish wife (later an Italian princess). On her father's death when she was seven years old, Sybille moved with her mother to Rome, London, and the south of France. She began a lifelong friendship with Aldous Huxley, who encouraged her to begin writing at age 16. In 1935, she made a brief marriage of convenience to Walter Bedford, an English army officer, which gave her British citizenship. During World War II, she went to the USA, but later returned to London and to her frequent European travels. Sybille Bedford's second novel, A Legacy (1956), is often considered her masterpiece. Her other books included three semi-autobiographical novels, A Favourite of the Gods (1963), A Compass Error (1968) and Jigsaw (1989), and several travel books. Working as a legal journalist for many years, she covered about 100 trials. In her book As It Was (1990), she discussed travel, the prosecution of D.H. Lawrence for Lady Chatterley's Lover, Jack Ruby's trial for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, and the trial of the Auschwitz officials in 1964. Although shy, Sybille Bedford could tell funny stories about her friends and fellow writers, including Thomas Mann, Lion Feuchtwanger, Edith Wharton, and the Huxleys. Her memoir, Quicksands, published in 2005 when she was nearly 94, revived interest in her elegant, insightful work. Her honors included OBE 1981; FRSL 1964; CLit 1994.



This novel—set in Rome, London, and (to a lesser extent) the south of France, mostly in the first part of the twentieth century—concerns Constanza, a beautiful free-spirited, sexually liberal woman. Born sometime in the 1890s, she’s the daughter of a New England heiress, Anna Howland, and Rico, an Italian prince. Constanza’s life isn’t exactly exotic, but it’s hardly conventional. It’s not an upbringing that most of Bedford’s readers would have personal experience of, and while not entirely in line with “the lives of the rich and famous”, it certainly borders on it, or is perhaps is a smaller Roman version.

Initially, I thought Bedford was interested in exploring some of the same themes as Henry James, specifically the clash of American romanticism and idealism with Old World realism and pragmatism. Constanza’s mother’s fortune was likely a large part of her appeal to Prince Rico, whose family fortune was in decline and grand palazzo in Rome in some disrepair. Bedford does examine cultural difference to some extent, but her real focus is on marital infidelity.

Rico, it turns out, has a very long-standing extramarital relationship with Giulia, the wife of a marchese. Anna finds out, is wounded, enraged, and repulsed. She leaves her young son Giorgio behind and flees with her daughter to London. (She can do this because her money has all been protected by her American solicitors.) Rico, his aristocratic family, and their extensive social circle cannot understand Anna’s reaction, her prudishness, and dramatics. Friends side with him. Bedford would have us believe that infidelity is widespread and tolerated in Roman society. Even teenage Constanza, who follows in her father’s footsteps and is sexually precocious, is aware of her father’s liaison with Giulia. She thinks nothing of it, and can’t believe that this would be the reason her mother has taken her away and barred her from seeing her father. Anna refuses to clarify the nature of her husband’s crime, and for a time Constanza thinks his offence must be a financial one.

The large central section of the novel focuses on Anna and Constanza’s life in London. Anna nurses a depression while Constanza sows her wild oats in the manner typical of a young man, restlessly entering and exiting many sexual relationships. And so it goes until she makes the acquaintance of Simon Herbert, a loquacious and entertaining young man. His presence brings joy into the life of the apathetic, defeated Anna. It’s at this point—in my opinion, at least—that Bedford’s novel goes off the rails and turns into a semi-ridiculous soap opera. Constanza acts in a way that is inconsistent with her free-spirited, independent, and mostly selfish orientation. To please her mother, she agrees to marry Simon, though he’s not her type and she’s not in love with him. His awareness of her lack of feeling for him eventually erodes the marriage. Both end up having affairs. I found the whole thing implausible and silly.

I enjoyed aspects of Bedford’s novel, but feel that it missed the mark overall. Characterization is not strong. I believe I was at some disadvantage reading this, as I know almost nothing about Italian history, culture, and politics—all of which figure in the book. There’s lots of Italian language content, not all of which I could guess the meaning of by using context clues alone. I sought online translation. I found Bedford’s style a little odd. I wasn’t confident I was making the correct inferences when I read dialogue between characters. For example, when Rico’s infidelity comes out, he pronounces that Anna “cannot have it both ways.” Can’t have what both ways? Here, and elsewhere, it wasn’t clear to me what the character was actually referring to. Possibly it was that she could not deny him a mistress when she was not interested in a sexual relationship with him.

Initially an interesting novel and engaging enough to complete, A Favourite of the Gods ultimately did not fully deliver for me. It is, in my view, a lesser novel.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
fountainoverflows | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 16, 2024 |
A trip to Mexico in the late 40's related by a continental chef's daughter and fine writer, with a British attitude. Always entertaining. Some Mexican history is summarized in an off-hand way. The introduction by Bruce Chatwin in my edition states that Ms. Bedford is neither ironic nor facetious. Either I misunderstand or he did.
Merkitty asiattomaksi
markm2315 | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jul 1, 2023 |
This novel tells the story of two generations of women of an American-Italian family during the first decades of the nineteenth century in Italy and England. One is embittered by her adulterous Italian husband and leaves Italy for England, taking her daughter with her. The daughter grows into a woman who is more like her father in her relationships which brings along complications both in her love life and in her relationship with her mother, the favourite of the gods.

This was a fine novel about the things people demand from their loved ones, while not always acting accordingly themselves. About things withheld from children, letting them grow up with false images of their parents. It’s also about rich Americans living as expats in Europe, which gave me Henry James vibes. But ultimately it deals with making the right choices when staying with or leaving a partner at the right moment.

I would have liked to see the daughter a bit more fleshed out and rooted in life at the end. But who knows, we will see more of that in the follow up novel A Compass Error, the follow up to this one.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
leoslittlebooklife | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jun 1, 2023 |
Sybille Bedford brings a vivid novelist's eye to the life of one of the great literary lights of the twentieth century in this masterful biography. I enjoyed both the intimate details as they unfolded through narrative and judicious vignettes of key events of his life.
Merkitty asiattomaksi
jwhenderson | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 16, 2021 |



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