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Old Man Goya

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Paperback published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
In 1792, when he was forty-seven, the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya contracted a serious illness that left him stone deaf. In this extraordinary book, Julia Blackburn follows Goya through the remaining thirty-five years of his life. It was a time of political turmoil, of war, violence, and confusion, and Goya transformed what he saw around him into visionary paintings, drawings, and etchings. These were also years of tenderness for Goya, of intimate relationships with the Duchess of Alba and with Leocadia, his mistress, who accompanied him to the end.

Blackburn’s singular distinction as a biographer is her uncanny ability to create a kaleidoscope of biography, memoir, history, and meditation—to think herself into another world. In Goya she has found the perfect subject. Visiting the towns Goya frequented, reading the revelatory letters that he wrote for years to a boyhood friend, investigating the subjects he portrayed, Julia Blackburn writes about the elderly painter with the intimacy of an old friend, seeing through his eyes and sharing the silence in his head.

With unprecedented immediacy and illumination, Old Man Goya gives us an unparalleled portrait of the artist.
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In 1792, when he was forty-seven, the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya contracted a serious illness that left him stone deaf. In this extraordinary book, Julia Blackburn follows Goya through the remaining thirty-five years of his life. It was a time of political turmoil, of war, violence, and confusion, and Goya transformed what he saw around him into visionary paintings, drawings, and etchings. These were also years of tenderness for Goya, of intimate relationships with the Duchess of Alba and with Leocadia, his mistress, who accompanied him to the end.

Blackburn’s singular distinction as a biographer is her uncanny ability to create a kaleidoscope of biography, memoir, history, and meditation—to think herself into another world. In Goya she has found the perfect subject. Visiting the towns Goya frequented, reading the revelatory letters that he wrote for years to a boyhood friend, investigating the subjects he portrayed, Julia Blackburn writes about the elderly painter with the intimacy of an old friend, seeing through his eyes and sharing the silence in his head.

With unprecedented immediacy and illumination, Old Man Goya gives us an unparalleled portrait of the artist.
Product Details
Paperback (256 pages)
Published: July 8, 2003
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780375705793
Other books byJulia Blackburn
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    In 1814 Napoleon Bonaparte arrived on St. Helenad surreal exile that would last until his death six years later. "A resonant meditation on exile, fame, the stories we tell about ourselves (and) the bigger stories we tell about our great figures."--Los Angeles Times Book Review.

    The Book of Color

    The Book of Color
    In the late 19th century, an English missionary arrives on a remote island in the Indian Ocean, intent on wiping our fornication among the natives. Instead he incurs a curse that strikes first his dark-skinned wife, then his son and grandson. But is the curse supernatural--or a white man's guilty fascination with an alien new world? "A hypnotic, cryptic, haunting exploration of the power of memory."--Boston Globe.

    The Leper's Companions

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    In this fascinatingly imaginative novel, Julia Blackburn has decimated all the rules, creating a magical tale that is part fable, part allegory, part present, part past, and wholly genuine and poetic. The unnamed protagonist has recently lost someone she loved, and her solution is to abandon the present, and the overwhelming pain.  The seamless narrative lands her in a medieval seaside village where mermaids wash ashore, devils haunt in packs, a child is born with the head of a fish, and where one day, quite out of nowhere, there emerges a sage and wandering leper.  The leper leads a small group of the villagers, including the protagonist, on a journey to Jerusalem, a harrowing pilgrimage that compels all the travelers to confront their deepest selves. Exquisite and lyrical, The Lepers Companions is a heart-rending tale by one of our most fiercely original storytellers.

    With Billie

    With Billie
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    From Julia Blackburn, an author whose ability to conjure lives from other times and places is so vivid that one suspects she sees ghosts, here is a portrait of a woman whose voice continues to haunt anyone who hears it. Billie Holiday’s life is inseparable from an account of her troubles, her addictions, her arrests, and the scandals that would repeatedly put her name in the tabloid headlines of the 1940s and 1950s. Those who knew her learned never to be surprised by what she might do. Her moods and faces were so various that she could seem to be a different woman from one moment to the next. Volatile, unpredictable, Billie Holiday remained, even to her friends, an elusive and perplexing figure. In With Billie, we hear the voices of those people–piano players and dancers, pimps and junkies, lovers and narcs, producers and critics, each recalling intimate stories of the Billie they knew. What emerges is a portrait of a complex, contradictory, enthralling woman, a woman who knew what really mattered to her. Reading With Billie, one is convinced that she has only just left the room but will return shortly.

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