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Derek Jarman: A Biography Hardcover – 1 Oct 2000

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Oct 2000
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 613 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Press (Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585670669
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585670666
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.3 x 4.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,556,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Biographies undertaken by acquaintances of the subject can so assault the senses with over-preened apologia that one would be forgiven for chomping on lemons to counter the gooiness. Tony Peake, former literary agent of Derek Jarman, proves an honourable exception, for in this oddly conventional yet superb account of an anything but conventional life, he remembers with discerning clarity the maverick talent and the talented maverick. As Betts, Jarman's mother, confided to her husband, "I'm so glad our children haven't grown up normal. They're so much more interesting than their friends." Jarman came to be known as much for going public on being HIV-positive and for the subsequent campaigning work he did for AIDS awareness and the militant gay group "Outrage". His homosexuality certainly informed his art, though for many it may also have obstructed it--but that would be a criticism of the artist, not the man. He came to film relatively late; painting was perhaps his first love (he was short listed for the 1986 Turner Prize), certainly staying with him as a constant form of expression until his final days, and he was also a prolific writer, with several volumes of autobiography and journals published, and a final one due to appear in early 2000. If mythology informed his art, it also shaped his life and Peake shows redoubtable resolution in trying to pin down the facts in the face of constant re-invention and artistic licence. Jarman was an original film-maker, perhaps not great, but always searchingly imaginative, and if his films show flaws, the charge can never be laid that they lack ambition and vision, something conspicuously absent from the work of so many of his British contemporaries. His later works, made in the shadow of his personal sword of Damocles, are steeped in unavoidable poignancy, stripped of the eager rawness of the youthful Jubilee and The Tempest. And always behind the artifice and polemic lay a gentle, warm man, devoted to his gardening, a constant that spanned his life. Where others may plunder, Tony Peake has crafted an intimate, sensitive account, unafraid of home truths, yet commendably slow to judge; he shows the seams, but wisely doesn't remark on the stitch work. --David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"That Jarman lived and died on the cutting edge of contemporary culture is central to the thesis of Tony Peake s monumentally well researched and fittingly respectful biography of this multifaceted personality. Peake . . . is his subject s perfect biographer." "The Times" (London)"

"Outstanding . . . the thoroughgoing life story that this experimental director and gay rights crusader deserves." "Financial Times""

"This is a superbly written biography, both evocative and gritty, as much a social history of postwar Britain as a life of an artist." "Irish Independent"" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Kindle Edition
Derek Jarman was an elusive, multi-faceted personality whose multi-talents in the Arts as painter, writer, film auteur, gay activist and sheer energy force is brilliantly explained in Peake's biography that is now an e-book. Whe it was published some years after Jarman's death, I found it very moving and this version is as fresh as ever.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great Book and a great seller thanks
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing biography of a fascinating man 14 Sept. 2001
By Phillip O. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Derek Jarman was many things - artist, writer, poet, filmmaker, gardener, political activist, etc. and you will feel like you knew him well after reading this excellent biography by Tony Peake, who was a friend and collaborator to Jarman. Beginning with Jarman's childhood, it was easy to see that he was highly sensitive to beauty and the arts - he was fascinated with flowers and nature which would lead to his development of his famous garden at Dungeness. Also, he was greatly affected by the art and entertainment medium around him - when his parents took him to the cinema for the first time, it was to see "The Wizard of Oz" and Jarman was so wrapped up in the film that he closed out everything else around him and thought the events occuring in front of him were real and at one point, to the embarrassment of his parents, ran screaming up the aisles in terror. Jarman's early adult years found him leading a very bohemian existence, experimenting with art and film and exploring his homosexuality. He was especially drawn to filmmaking and would eventually direct such avant garde features as "Sebastiane" and "The Last of England". When he was diagnosed with AIDS in the mid 80's, he became more and more involved in activism for AIDS reasearch and the basic rights of gays and lesbians. Jarman had many critics, both to his work and his activism, but he never buckled to them and spoke out any time he felt an injustice was being served. Peake's biography is daunting (533 pages) but it is not heavy handed and you almost feel that you are sitting with someone who knew Jarman well, listening to his stories about him. The last chapters deal with Jarman's devastating battle with AIDS, which left him crippled and blind, and if the last poem in the book (taken from Jarman's film "Blue") does not leave you teary eyed, nothing will.
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