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Writers' Houses [Hardcover]

Francesca Premoli-Droulers , Marguerite Duras , Erica Lennard

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Book Description

Oct 1995
This work takes the reader into the intimacy of the homes of 20 great international literary figures, exploring the ties between the writers, their books and their houses. Coverage includes Hemingway, Twain, Faulkner, di Lampedusa, Cocteau, Sackville-West, Thomas and Yeats.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent overall combination of words and photos 5 April 2001
By J. Lizzi - Published on
Not having studied anything about the lives of famous authors, I found "Writers' Houses" intriguing nevertheless. Francesca Premoli-Droulers presents a nice "pictorial tour" of the homes and properties, and does a great job of describing the emotional connection between the artists' lives and the places where they created their literary works. The first-rate photography, by Erica Lennard, is a superb complement to the text.
Each of the 21 homes (including that of Marguerite Duras, who wrote the prologue) is presented over eight to ten pages--with an equal number of color photos--of reverent writing and stories about what brought the author to that particular home, the inspiration created by the residence and its grounds, and the goings-on of the day. It's excellent reading.
Photographer Lennard more often than not does a good job of capturing the natural lighting to give depth and "feel" to the interior spaces. My favorite shots are the ones of doorways, stairways and porches. There are also close-ups of desks, books, and various nicknacks, which add intimacy and personality to the pictures, although perspective is occasionally lost from being a little too close up. Also, it would have been perfect to see some aerial photos of the extent of the grounds and the character of their settings, especially for the Dossi, Faulkner, Hemingway, Hesse and Moravia homes. Still, this is a first-rate addition to anyone's library.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Private Glimpse Behind The Pages 5 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Duras introduces this photo essay with her trademark verse. Her style of stating her perceptions and then restating thoughts in her legendary flip-flop manner, cement their importance and leave a lasting impression. The photos are magnificent. They seem to represent the essence of the writers: from personal belongings scattered about, to the sparce quarters envisioned surrounding a creator at work. I had visited Ernest Hemmingway's home in Cuba and immediately recognized his Key West home as his. A fine addition to anyone's library, this book appeals to the artist and romantic in all of us.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars My hopes for this being an excellent book were soon shattered. 29 April 2013
By J. Guild - Published on
When I first saw this book,I just had to have it.I love to read about writers,their lives and where they lived.However;once past the first class construction,paper and printing quality,this book has little to excite or inform the reader.As others reviewrers have commented,most of the writers are not known,particularly in North America.Overlooking that;I didnt' find the coverage of any of the writers,even those I was familiar with;to be very interesting.Some others commented on the photos;but I didn't think any showed much effort was put into them.It seemed like they could have been snapped with little thought or time greater than a short visit to the house.In other words,they did not capture the character,or lifestyle of the writer.
Perhaps the author's desire to do their own photos rather than finding photographs of the writers at work or living in their homes accounts for this.There is a big difference between a house and a home,add what we get here is the house missing those who lived there.The text also left me wishing the author would stop trying to impress with her flowery words,which was a distraction.As a matter of fact,I could take only so much of it,and skimmed a lot of it.
I really enjoy photographs of writers at work ,and at home in their surroundings;but this book kind of remindes me of what the room is like after the event is over and everybody has gone home.
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Picutres - Sloppy Work 24 Oct 2013
By Patti M. Marxsen - Published on
This book came into my hands as a used book because I am a writer who happens to be familiar with most of the writers whose houses are photographed here. In particular, I am a long-time fan of Marguerite Duras, Karen Blixen, W.B. Yeats, and Marguerite Yourcenar... all major literary voices of the twentieth century. Seeing these tranquil photographs of their homes is like watching a pleasant film. Indeed, the strength of the book is its visual appeal, thanks to the work of Erica Lennard.

Unfortunately, the writer is the weak link in the chain in this book that masquerades as a book that might tell you something about writers. The "Prologue by Marguerite Duras" is, in fact, a poorly translated passage from her book "Ecrire" that was published in 1993. It is NOT a prologue written for this book, as the cover and title page imply. Worse yet is the horrendous mistranslation of the title of what many believe to be the best novel ever written by Duras: "Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein." Though there is room to debate the best translation of "ravissement" (rapture, rape, ravishing), the truly unbelievable mistake has to do with the name, Lol V. Stein, the woman this book is about whose complete name is "Lola Valerie Stein."

Premoli-Droulers makes it clear that not only has she never read this novel, she has never looked at it (as in... never looked at the book cover). It seems no one else bothered either, so perhaps she has soothed her soul by pointing the finger. In either case, this sloppy work results in a major error on page one where the title in the Duras "prologue" of "Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein" is translated as "The Rapture of Colonel Von Stein." The only explanation for this gross inaccuracy that I can think of is that the title was dashed off in illegible hand-writing... and Premoli-Droulers made the erroneous assumption that she could read it rather than challenge herself to confirm the title of a book she knew nothing about. She is presented on the book jacket as an employee of French VOGUE. ANY bookshop in France where French lit was sold in the 1990s could have straightened Premoli-Droulers out in two minutes. She, obviously, did not take that two minutes.

Why does this matter? Because it is a book about writers written by someone who knows too little and poses as a "journalist, author, and editor." This gives those professions a bad name and positions the book a notch above a "vintage" issue of House Beautiful. Fun to look at, but fundamentally more of a marketing project than a tribute to the people it pretends to honor. Wherever Premoli-Droulers is today, she must know this error is one that lingers. We all make mistakes, but this one could have been so easily avoided with a little more professionalism... or a genuine interest in literature and the people who create it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Coffee table book 23 Sep 2013
By Donna B.Kirkpatrick - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wanted something to inspire my journaling hobby.
This book sets the tone for areas to write in. Just
what I was hoping for to redo an area in our house
for this purpose.

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