So, Christmas is over once again and I got some lovely presents, notably two great books.
The first is ‘Exist Otherwise: The Life and Works of Claude Cahun‘ by Jennifer L Shaw – a delightfully thoughtful gift from my other half.
During my summer holiday I read a novel about the life of Claude Cahun and her partner Marcel Moore, the beautiful ‘Never Anyone but You’ by Rupert Thomson and this sparked my interest in Claude Cahun, a gender fluid, sexually diverse artist who mingled with the great and the good of the Paris art world between the wars and then spent a number of years carrying out resistance against the Nazi occupation of Jersey. A fascination person and a great, great story. Shaw’s book is big and beautiful and will, hopefully shed more light on the story and illustrate it with the work of the Cahun/ Moore partnership.
Another gift was ‘Lost Futures: The Disappearing Architecture of Post-War Britain‘ by Owen Hopkins.
I have a terribly soft spot for post-war modernist and concrete architecture which, when done well, is a beautiful thing to behold, full of the optimism for the future, a future which now seems to have died a pitiful and strangely un-mourned death. This book is an obituary for those dreams. I shall read it and try not to weep.
Finally, the new year brought with it the sales which, this year, yielded just one goody: ‘Portrait of the Writer: Literary Lives in Focus’ by Goffredo Fofi. Another delightful publication from Thames and Hudson, this features briefs outlines of the work of 250 worldwide writers, alongside portraits by renowned photographers. There are, of course, many writers inlcuded here who I am unfamiliar with, but that makes it all the more interesting.
I’ll leave you with a few of my favourite portraits…
Clockwise from top right: Muriel Spark, Marguerite Duras, Simone De Beauvoir; Iris Murdoch, Jacques Prevert; Truman Capote.