Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet

Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet

by Otto Friedrich

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Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet by Otto Friedrich

"Using Manet's controversial masterpiece as his starting point," Janet Maslin wrote in the New York Times about Olympia, one of her all-time favorite books, "Friedrich examined every imaginable aspect of the city's history and culture in a book that bristles with incisive analysis and amazing data." "He brings," Kirkus Reviews said, "his rare historical imagination and narrative gifts to the art and politics, frivolity, eccentricity, and scandal of the Second Empire (1865-85) in Paris during the reign of Napoleon III."

Otto Friedrich's account of Paris ("the capital of the 19th century") during the Second Empire brilliantly evokes an era and vividly depicts its people and events. The central character is Manet with an awe-inspiring supporting cast of Napoleon III, Empress Eugénie, Wagner, Flaubert, Bismarck, Offenbach, Proust, Degas, Haussmann, Zola, Monet, and Victor Hugo. Though Manet never paints Empress Eugénie, the most powerful woman in France, he does paint the execution of Maximilian in Mexico (which is only one of the ill-fated schemes urged on Napoleon III by the Empress) and he does paint Berthe Morisot--eleven times, in fact, with whom he is clearly in love--but she marries his brother.

Baron Haussmann tears up and rebuilds most of central Paris. Manet paints a portrait of Nana as a mindless showgirl. Zola, at almost the same time, writes Nana as a portrait of a woman as a devourer. Bismarck provokes and Empress Eugénie prods Napoleon into war. Napoleon loses his entire army and surrenders at Sedan. The Third Republic is proclaimed in Paris. Manet and Degas serve in the defending army. Victor Hugo publishes a cookbook on how to cook rats. Under siege, Paris surrenders. The French government attacks and massacres the Communards. The Impressionists paint and quarrel among themselves.

"Rich, vivid, imaginatively organized," continued Kirkus, "a 19th-century Bonfire of the Vanities, a true one, ready for the big screen... Memorable vignettes include the exiled Wagner producing Tannhäuser for the frivolous Parisians; the massacre of citizens in Napoleon's coup and again after his defeat; the Exposition of 1867, with its 52,000 exhibits; and a history of syphilis, the disease that probably took Manet's life." "Friedrich's technique,' wrote Malcolm L. Johnson in the Hartford Courant, "born of Time compression, is to read everything available and then distill it into readable, anecdotal, humorous history."

This eBook edition includes interactive links between the text and the artwork about which Friedrich is writing.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940150457638
Publisher: Author & Company
Publication date: 09/12/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 14 MB
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About the Author

Otto Friedrich was born in Boston and attended Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude in history at the age of nineteen. He moved to Europe where he worked for the Stars & Stripes in Germany and United Press in Paris and London. Returning to New York, he served as an editor at the Daily News, Newsweek, and the Saturday Evening Post, the latter whose demise he chronicled in Decline and Fall, which won him a George Polk Award. Mr. Friedrich then joined Time magazine where he spent the next nineteen years turning out sprightly journalism for the magazine by day and a succession of elegant histories, biographies, and reams of freelance articles and book reviews by night. To learn more about Otto and his work please visit OttoFriedrich.com

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