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Lastingness: The Art of Old Age

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  • Posted January 14, 2011

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    Inquisitively interesting view, sometimes raw, of the creative mind into old age.

    In LASTINGNESS, Nicholas Delbanco, one of America's most celebrated men of letters, profiles great geniuses in the fields of visual art, literature, and music-Monet, Verdi, O'Keeffe, Yeats, among others - searching for the answers to why some artists' work diminishes with age, while others' reaches its peak. Both an intellectual inquiry into the essence of aging and creativity and a personal journey of discovery, this is a brilliant exploration of what determines what one needs to do to keep the habits of creation and achievement alive.

    I feel every bone aching as I write this review. Not sure what to expect with this one although pleasantly surprised. Being a previous Psychology major who has hit that 45 mark. I think my older half, that artistic personality has pushed me to read this book. Like everyone else of course when it comes to aging, I would like to do it gracefully, yet keep my mind intact. So when a book like this comes along I could not possibly pass it up.

    "LASTINGNESS" such a diverse title for a book, it can mean many things. Deblanco is intense on the subject while keeping it true to his title "The Art of Old Age". He brings to light the lives of many artists including sculptures, musicians, writers and painters, to numerous to list here. He concentrates on those artists that were still able to produce art toward the end of their lifetime, while also giving details of those who died to young. Deblance discusses whether their art was just as good as when they were young, was it better or did it decline. Why do some enter the world of art when they are much older, while others start young? Does it make a difference? These are some of the questions Deblanco tries to answer.

    A very difficult conclusion to come too, when considering the artistic mind. The mind of the artist is so complicated. When you take apart the mind of the artist and truly look, you will find most are mentally challenged due to mental illnesses. The mental illness as is called is not always an illness for only what society chooses to label it. The clarity, fog, and ever changing moods of an artist alone can and do declare what comes out of an artist. How can you even know what causes them to do what they do throughout their lifetime.

    Even with creativity relative to age being such a difficult task to write about. I enjoyed Deblanco's book, as his passion comes through in is his depictions of Shakespeare, Verdi, Monet and others. I learned about the lives of some genius artists and came across many interesting ideas Deblanco presents while reading LASTINGNESS. This book would be of interest to those like me who love to read and learn at the same time. Unless you are an enthusiast of painters, writers and other artists of the past this book is not for you.

    Nicholas Debanco is the Robert Frost Distinguished University Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan and Chair of the Hopwood Committee. He has published twenty-four books of fiction and non-fiction. His most recent novels are The Count of Concord and Spring and Fall; his most recent works of non-fiction are The Countess of Stanlein Restored and The Lost Suitcase. To read more about the author Nicholas Deblanco visit his website.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2011

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