Farewell, Godspeed: The Greatest Eulogies of Our Time

Farewell, Godspeed: The Greatest Eulogies of Our Time

by Cyrus M. Copeland

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307420701
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 12/18/2007
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 746,137
File size: 875 KB

About the Author

A veteran of Madison Avenue, CYRUS M. COPELAND left the ad business in pursuit of truth, beauty, and narratives that last longer than thirty seconds. As editor of Farewell, Godspeed, he is honored to be the custodian of these living banks of memory.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt


By Max Eastman, political sympathizer and friend

Written on the occasion of her death

Isadora Duncan was the last friend I saw when I left Europe this spring. She stood in the little crowd on the platform at the Gare Saint Lazare. I was standing at the car window, laughing and half crying at the sadly funny excitement of people parting with their friends, and suddenly I heard her voice calling my name and "Good-bye!" She raised her hand when I caught sight of her, and stood still with it raised in the air and moving slowly in a serene and strong benediction. A great beam of that energetic and perfectly idealistic light shone out of her eyes to me. She looked very great. She looked like a statue of real liberty.

It made me sad for a long time, because greatness in this little world is sad. Greatness coming to an unhappy end is almost unendurable, and I had felt that Isadora was coming to an unhappy end. I felt it underneath all the delightful bubbling of her mirth when I saw her during the winter in Cannes. It was at the house of our friend Lucien Monod, a Communist and an artist. She had just received a cablegram that money would be forwarded for her memoirs, and she was full of laughing joy--that wild, reckless, witty joy that all her friends remember. Isadora could sprinkle the whole world with her wit and make it shine.

Isadora Duncan was one of the great men and women--more indubitably so, I think, than any other artist who has lived in our time. They speak of Duse and Sarah Bernhardt and Isadora as a trio of great women, but Isadora was incomparably above the other two. She was not only a supreme artist as they were, endowed by nature with momentous power and the perfect gift of restraining it, but she was also a great mind and a moral force. She used her momentous power, as the giants of mankind have always done, not only to entertain the world but to move it.

And she did move it. It is needless to tell how she changed the art of dancing. She was a revolution in that art, and so to some extent in the whole art of theater. All the civilized world acclaimed her, and recognized in that young brave girl's beautiful body, running barefoot and half-naked, running and bending and pausing and floating in a stream of music, as though the music had formed out of its own passion a visible spirit to live for a moment and die when it died--all the world recognized in that an artistic revolution, an apparition of creative genius, and not merely an achievement in the established art of the dance.

But I think few people realized how far beyond the realm of art--how far out and how deep into the moral and social life of our times--the influence of Isadora Duncan's dancing extended. All the bare-legged girls, and the poised and natural girls with strong muscles and strong, free steps wherever they go--they all owe more to Isadora Duncan than to any other person. And the boys, too, they have a chance to be unafraid of beauty, to be unafraid of the natural life and free aspiration of an intelligent animal walking on the earth--all who have in any measure escaped from the rigidity and ritual of our national religion of negation, all of them owe an immeasurable debt to Isadora Duncan's dancing. She did not only go back into the past to Athens to find that voluntary restraint in freedom that made her dancing an event in the history of art. She went forward into the future--farther, I suppose, than Athens--to a time when man shall be cured altogether of civilization, and return, with immunity to that disease if with few other blessings, to his natural home outdoors on the green surface of the earth. That made her dancing an event in the history of life.

Isadora was exiled--banished by more than an accident of the marriage law--from America. But nevertheless Isadora was very American. The big way in which she conceived things, and undertook them, and the way she succeeded with them, was American. Even her faults were American--her passion for "pulling off stunts"--"gestures" is the way she would say it--was American. She made a grand sport of her public position and character. She played with publicity like a humorous Barnum. Even her extravagant and really bad irresponsibility, which went almost to the point of madness in later years, was in the reverse sense an American trait. It was an exaggerated reaction against America's "righteousness." Wrongtiousness is what you would have to call it if you wished to appraise it with a sense of its origin.

America fighting the battle with Americanism--that was Isadora. From that battle incomparable things are to come--things that will startle and teach the world. And Isadora led the way into the fight all alone, with her naked and strong body and her bold character, vivid as an Amazon. If America triumphs over greed and prudery, intellectual and moral cowardice, Isadora Duncan will be sculptured in bronze at the gate of the Temple of Man in the new day that will dawn. She will stand there, poised in terrible impatience, knee raised and arms tensely extended as in the March Militaire of the Scythian warrior's dance--beautiful--a militant and mighty woman, the symbol and the veritable leader of those who put on their courage like armor and fought for the affirmation of life in America.

From the Hardcover edition.

Table of Contents

Isadora Duncan1
Bob Fosse6
Keith Haring12
Jerome Robbins16
Gianni Versace20
Andy Warhol24
Susan B. Anthony28
Quentin Crisp35
Che Guevara40
Helen Keller46
Martin Luther King Jr.51
Karl Marx57
Eleanor Roosevelt61
Ryan White68
Malcolm X72
Lucille Ball76
Jack Benny81
Stan Laurel87
Gilda Radner94
Charles Schulz97
Captains of Industry
Andrew Carnegie102
Henry Ford109
David Ogilvy114
John D. Rockefeller Jr.119
Charles Tiffany124
Movie Stars
Humphrey Bogart128
Richard Burton133
Bette Davis141
James Dean147
Jack Lemmon151
Walter Matthau156
River Phoenix161
Mae West165
Explorers and High Fliers
Challenger Astronauts170
Amelia Earhart175
Thomas Edison178
Albert Einstein181
Carl Jung188
Timothy Leary195
Marshall McLuhan199
Tunesmiths and Songbirds
Chet Atkins202
Irving Berlin210
Sammy Davis Jr.215
Duke Ellington219
George Harrison225
Janis Joplin230
Lawrence Welk236
Movie Moguls
Stanley Kubrick241
Irving "Swifty" Lazar247
David O. Selznick253
Billy Wilder256
Darryl F. Zanuck260
Erma Bombeck264
Emily Dickinson268
Robert Frost272
Dashiell Hammett277
Lillian Hellman281
Theodor Seuss Geisel285
Mark Twain292
Virginia Woolf295
Walt Whitman300
John F. Kennedy306
John F. Kennedy Jr.309
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis315

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Farewell, Godspeed: The Greatest Eulogies of Our Time 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
tamora on LibraryThing 5 months ago
An unusual but interesting way to learn more about famous people of the twentieth century.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cyrus M. Copeland has done a brilliant job of gathering together a beautiful and moving set of tributes. I was brought to tears by the remembrances of a young and strong Gilda Radner by her longtime friend Alan Zweibel. I laughed as Cathy Guisewite tells tales of Snoopy's famous creater Charles Schulz (or Sparky as he was known to his friends). I sat back and pondered on Helen Keller's magnificent triumphs as Sen. Lister Hill so elegently reveals them. These and many others: Madonna on Gianni Versace, Gregory Hines on Sammy Davis, Jr, Susan Dickinson on her sister-in-law Emily, and 'Uncle Teddy' on John-John, reveal this celebrated group of personalities in a fresh and heartfelt manner. I must confess, I have picked up this book on many occasions since my first reading to revisit some of the most poignant passages. I truly recommend this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Farewell, Godspeed' is a great book of eulogies - funny and heartbreaking at turns - to very well known cultural icons, including movie stars, scientists, writers, artists, politicians, and revolutionaries. The tributes are surprisingly personal - a reminder that behind all the glitz of accomplishment, there was a person who left behind friends that remember them in a way beyond their accomplishments. I highly recommend this book. Not just as an example of what makes for a great eulogy... 'Farewell, Godspeed' is also a reminder of the finer aspects of humanity.