Simon & Schuster; Hardbound. 230 pages.
Has anyone of you read Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim? My Lord, I have given up on the fifth chapter. It’s like listening (or reading in this case) to a drunk man’s non-sequential blabbering!
I already have a general concept on what its about — very simple plot actually. Yet the manner of storytelling has gone abit haywire in my opinion. There was even a foreword (more like defensive prologue) from the author saying that some reviewers have criticized that the book has gone too far. He admitted that he started writing it as a short-story for a newspaper but got ‘carried away’.
Anyhow, I’m going to tune off from reading classics for a while. I’ll take a backseat and enjoy light reading for now. And I started it with reading Sean Hepburn Ferrer’s Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit: A Son Remembers.
Sean H. Ferrer is Audrey Hepburn’s son from her first husband, Mel Ferrer. If you are planning to read any book or biography about/of Audrey Hepburn, let this be the only one you get your hands on. So many paperback biographies of the actress have come about but none of them are authorized. This book is sort of a memoir that is so intimate and personal you can feel Sean Ferrer’s emotions and feelings rise above the (lack of) literary style or writing.It has over 300 photos from the Hepburn Family Estate collection–some of which have never been published before.
I have yet to come across an actress (present Hollywood) who has the grace and charm of Audrey Hepburn. She may be known for the gamine face but what is most remarkable about her is humility and compassion. Her early years were spent in war and famine and this made her very grateful to every opportunity that graced her life. She may not have belonged to any formal religion but her compassion and work with the UNICEF spent during the last years of her life had truly made a difference. She died from intestinal cancer–which was brought about by taking an extremely strong antibiotic in Somalia. And that is just Audrey the humanitarian. There’s still the Audrey who’s the fashion icon, the dancer, the actress, the artist, mother, daughter, companion, and friend–all of which are perfectly illustrated in the book.
A perfect article on describing/appreciating Ms. Hepburn was written by Cecil Beaton, photographer and visual consultant for the issue of Vogue November 1, 1954:
‘It is always a dramatic moment when the Phoenix rises anew from its ashes. For if “queens have died young and fair”, they are also reborn, appearing in new guises which often create their own terms of appreciation. Even while the pessimists were predicting that no new feminine ideal could emerge from the aftermath of war, an authentic existential Galatea was being forged in the person of Miss Audrey Hepburn. no one can doubt that Audrey Hepburn’s appearance succeeds because it embodies the spirit of today. She had, if you like, her prototypes in France–Damia, Edith Pilaf, or Juliet Greco. But it took the rubble of Belgium, a British accent, and an American success to launch a striking personality that best exemplifies our new Zeitgeist. Nobody ever looked like her before World War II; it is doubtful if anybody ever did, unless it be those wild children of the French Revolution who stride in the foreground of romantic canvases. Yet we recognize the rightness of this appearance in relation to our historical needs. And the proof is that thousands of imitations have appeared. The woods are full of emaciated young ladies with rat-nibbled hair and moon-pale faces. What does the paragon really look like? Audrey Hepburn has enormous heron’s eyes and dark eyebrows slanted towards the Far East. Her facial features show character rather than prettiness; the bridge of her nose seems almost too narrow to carry its length, which flares into a globular tip with nostrils startlingly like a duck’s bill. Her mouth is wide, with a cleft under the lower lip too deep for classical beauty, and the delicate chin appears even smaller by contrast with the exaggerated width of her jaw bones. Seen at the full, the outline of her face is perhaps too square; yet she intuitively tilts her head with a restless and perky asymmetry. She is like a portrait in Modigliani where the various distortions are not only interesting in themselves but make a completely satisfying composite. Beneath this childlike head is a long, incredibly slender and straight neck. A rod-like back continues the vertical line of the nape, and she would appear exaggeratedly tall were it not for her natural grace. Audrey Hepburn’s stance is a combination of an ultra fashion plate and a ballet dancer. Indeed, she owes a large debt to the ballet for her bearing and abandon in movement, which yet suggest a personal quality, an angular kinship with cranes and storks. She can assume acrobatic poses, always maintaining an elegance in her incredibly lithe torso, long, flat waist, tapering fingers and endless legs. With arms akimbo or behind her back, she habitually plants her feet wide apart-one heel dug deep with the toe pointing skywards. And it is more natural for her to squat cross-legged on the floor than to sit in a chair. ‘
I come close to crying every time I think of that scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, playing Holly Golightly, she peacefully strums her small guitar and though her voice is not that of a songbird, she very earnestly sings “Moon River”.