A celebration of celebrities (a pride of lions)
(Page 2 of 2)
This was the city where artistic trends moved as swiftly as Parisian taxicabs , with Cubism on the wane, Surrealism on the rise - the place where artists abandoned the nightclub area of Montmartre to follow Picasso to the new low-rent district of Montparnasse.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The photographs in the book are touching: Self-deluded Zelda Fitzgerald poses hopefully in tutu; Sylvia Beach leans contentedly against the door of her writer's mecca, the Shakespeare & Co. bookshop. Madame de Sevigne, by Frances Mossiker. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 538 pp. $22. 95.
In 1690 a French marquise wrote a letter to her married daughter. Over the next 20 plus years the lady Madame de Sevigne wrote over a thousand more.
Now Francophile Frances Mossiker has translated the missives into 20 th-century vernacular - a masterly undertaking which includes material exorcised by previous publishers. Even Madame de Sevigne's mild rebuke of her gambling son-in-law -''One wants to kiss him, one wants to slap him!'' - was considered too personal by earlier editors.
The letters, written by this unusually well-educated woman of her day, provide a rare link with daily life of 17th-century France. Madame Sevigne struggles with the generation-bridging problems of love, loneliness, and the loosening of maternal apron strings. She worries about age (''A thousand years ago I was born''), complains about the weather (''After the rain came the rain''), revels in a ''carpet of jonquils'' near her woods.
I'm glad I met Madame Sevigne, even though the anxiety-ridden quality of her early letters and the distracting footnotes put me off at first. Warm, witty, she only wanted ''a little kindness, a bit of security. . . .''
The nagging, naughty question remains: Would we have a Sevigne saga if Alexander Graham Bell had already invented the telephone? Pretty Babies, by Andrea Darvi. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. 210 pp. $14. 95.
Kristy McNichol didn't have it. . . . Judy Garland blamed her mother for withholding it. . . . Natalie Wood paid psychiatrists fees because of it. . . . What did these actors miss so much? A normal childhood.
''Pretty Babies'' is the story of child stars who gave their early years to careers in movies, television, and commercials. They include the author, Andrea Darvi, herself. Because of her Mediterranean look, she often found herself passed over for the more popular blond, blue-eyed WASP type. Nevertheless, her brief career in acting gives her a vantage point from which to assess the pros and cons of child stardom.
Jerry Mathers (the Beaver) says he was overindulged, and Jay (Dennis the Menace) North believes status made him a brat. Kristy McNichol muses, ''I can't be a child now.'' With all the problems then, why do children stay in the kiddie race? Because, as Mrs. Withers reminded her daughter Jane, there is always some other child actor just waiting in the wings. . . . ''Don't you forget it.'' And, a grown-up Jane Withers says firmly, ''I never have.''
Sophisticates may yawn at Darvi's to-do about ''Pretty Babies,'' but not I. Just so you know, Jane dear, I still have your autographed 8-by-10 glossy.