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Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and the Unknown…

Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 2007; vuoden 2007 painos)

Tekijä: Pat Shipman (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1613173,131 (3.25)3
A portrait of the notorious early twentieth-century spy considers the theory that she may have been innocent of the charges for which she was executed, in an account that profiles her as a complicated seducer of men who had an unusual talent for manipulation.
Teoksen nimi:Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari
Kirjailijat:Pat Shipman (Tekijä)
Info:William Morrow (2007), Edition: First Edition, 464 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):


Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari (tekijä: Pat Shipman) (2007)


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näyttää 3/3
It's very sympathetic to Mata Hari and the author continuously mentions that "no other historian" or "no other biography" looked into some of her sources. I would have liked it more if the prose had been more neutral; Shipman is very persuasive with the case she builds against Mata Hari's ex-husband and the holes in the story of Mata Hari as a master spy, but her pointing it out to the reader breaks the fourth wall in an uncomfortable way. ( )
  Bodagirl | Jan 23, 2018 |
Although on the whole this biography of Mata Hari is very interesting and easy to read, I have to say that the beginning of the book had me a little mixed up. The author begins with a narrative of the subject's early years in Holland then suddenly gives a history of the life of Dutch military and colonists in the Dutch Indies during the same time period. It was not until the meeting of Margaretha Zelle (ne' Mata Hari) to her husband, Rudolph MacLeod that this information made sense. As the story of this woman's life unfolds, the author, Pat Shipman, uses quotes from letters and legal documents to give depth and personality to the characters. Ms Shipman also uses a combination of modern information with that of the said time period to explain the actions and belief of those who were living, such as the theories of syphilis including the "cures" used in the day. Syphilis plays a major role in the life of Mata Hari and knowledge of the beliefs during this period of history are important to understanding how much of her life unfolds. The life of this "notorious" woman was as tragic as it was fascinating. If this were not as well documented as it is, I would almost think the life of Mata Hari was a historical fiction playing through the end of the Victorian period through WWI. Well worth reading. ( )
  PallanDavid | Jul 17, 2008 |
It is sometimes easy, sometimes difficult. Writing about a woman who was executed, by a great Power, for really nothing.

We are fast closing upon the 100th anniversary of Mata Hari's execution in 1917. Under her married name, she is the most famous of the MacLeods, and although well-known, completely unsung and misunderstood.

The MacLeods were a Scots clan that pretty much annihilated the Keys, a sept of the McKay clan, but by some oversight, they missed my progenitors on that branch of the tree. Still, I remember all MacLeods, with a kind of gratitude that they have calmed down considerably. And Mata Hari is simply one of the greats.

And this comes up opportunely in 2007, with the first biography I have seen of her. Pat Shipman authored a significant Biography of our dearest MacLeod, known to us by her stage name. Shipman title is a triple layered pun, painfully ironic: "Femme Fatale". Born in Holland in 1876, Margaretha Geertruida Zelle married Rudolf Macleod, an army officer stationed in Indonesia. She eventually returned to the Netherlands, divorced, and penniless, sought the attention of wealthy men. With an instinct "for what would succeed", she developed a series of "sacred dances" ostensibly learned in the Indies. The Malay phrase she adopted as her name, means "the eye of the day", or "sunrise".

As World War I broke out, the Belle Epoch tied off, and it got hard for a dancing lady to earn a living. She was approached by French and German diplomats, all males, with advances in cash and kind. Eventually she was hounded mercilessly by a French double agent, Georges Ladoux--he was himself playing both sides--and prosecuted for spying. There was no evidence of espionage. Her conviction was completely based on her "immorality", her transparently eager willingness and patent ability to drain men of their bodily fluids. Her skills had really nothing to do with espionage, and it is difficult to imagine a lady less likely to be able to go un-noticed than Mata Hari.

She was imprisoned in the filth of the prison at Saint-Lazare until her execution by firing squad in 1917. And this is but another example of a miscarriage of justice in the magistrate system under the Napoleonic Code; see also Dreyfus. Preconception and scapegoating, the corruption of religious piety, the need to do "something" when another thing--the War--is not doing well, all tainted the pretense of a trial.

Now, about the dancing....!

OK, she apparently was not much of a dancer. But you can see she "studied" Isadora Duncan, and others. By her own accounts, she was able to pack the theatre because none of the "real dancers" took their clothes off. The costume she took off, of course, was worth the price of admission: Beautiful brunette in a shining metal bra, eventually removed, topped by a spangly tiara, and the use of transparent veils. And the show was accompanied with lighting and scent effects. Not just veils but incense smoke and scented fans.

We have no professional choreographic descriptions although the men who watched her have related fairly specific bits. Their journals set atremble by the intoxicating mixture of exotic music, striptease, and veiled anatomy. These accounts, all by men, "are a hoot" in their way, but we have no way of reconstituting the dances. Nejla Y. Yatkin is one professional who does a great contemporary depiction.

I want to suggest something more. The descriptions of the rhythms--from slow liquid gestures to swirling and shaking--are in many forms of dance. However, it is hard for me not to think specifically of images of Romani women and small flamenco performances. First of all, the performance itself was very much like a series of alegrias, with taranto stylings, at one with the music, sumptouous. Not the strolling, not the Lumbre, but the “come, come hither” curling yearning of the arch for the hypotenuse. This is like “fuego a lento”, or being at a slow fire. From her poverty in the Spanish portions of the Netherlands, and in Europe, there would be exposure to the Gypsy solo dances.

But the fingers and hands? They were not the restrained clutched passion gestures of flamenco Spain. The gestures are the round organic drawing up of malaysian chakras. She brought a “spiritual”–evocative and divine – dimension from the modified temple dance, to the European audiences starving for expression and depth.

The veils? Not really a "sacred" or traditional element in Indonesian dance. Veils are moorish, Arabesque, belly-dancing. She provided content to the interest Europeans had in the Middle Eastern cultures -- with veiled women. The veil is neutral to sex, a tool equally for modesty and for display, for allure and for innocence. All veils are teaching tools, and Mata Hari would teach.

When Mata Hari turned, her exit was a rump invitation. Her backward glance, another dyad. The men would beat their foreheads for days after the performance over whether the shrug of her shoulder was dismissal or invitation. Her dance would evidently last in the mind. She erected the stages which happen to men in places they cannot forget. This was an under-belly that you could not get over. She showed herself naked – and inflamed a pubic war the public had never seen and both sexes admired. She became the “other woman” everyone wanted in their lives.

When Mata Hari began dancing, women were wearing high necked victoria dresses and preposterous bustles were still around. The bosom was a shelf, unseparated, unlifted. A bare ankle was considered a racy exposure, even among the milk maids. Edwardian fashions required women to have corsets, in effect to be unable to breathe heavily. Mata Hari bared her belly. There was no suggestion of an "hour-glass" figure for timing the eggs -- the audience saw a HUMAN female. This vision -- moving free of the corset -- dropped the pants of the men and the jaws of the women in the audience.

Mata Hari changed the world. She led women gently off the Herculaneum pedestal which was as far as “draped” women were getting. She redefined "fashion". She drew from the nyai traditions of Malaysian mistresses, gypsy performers, Middle-eastern exoticism, and a business-woman's marketing instincts, to capture an audience. And this is the historical fact with wheels–she was loved by men and women “as her public”, creating this kind of audience, the first modern public art subsidy for dance. She freed herself, all women, from the patronage system. She was an independent woman, with her own business, her own brand. She developed a new kind of theatre, and even a new type of postcard – with strikingly dignified poses --for advertising and imprinting her brand.

What Beethoven did for music, finding a public for orchestrations free of aristocratic whims and patronage, she developed for dance theatre. What Beethoven did for the ear, she did for the eye and nose. Beethoven was a giant, a genius, and we linger in his shadow. Still, he was rude to his friends, and a tyrant to be around.

Mata Hari, no less the genius with her arts. And the comparison favors her: They were both memorable to be with, but time spent with her was far more pleasant. ( )
  keylawk | Aug 21, 2007 |
näyttää 3/3
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A portrait of the notorious early twentieth-century spy considers the theory that she may have been innocent of the charges for which she was executed, in an account that profiles her as a complicated seducer of men who had an unusual talent for manipulation.

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