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Little Dancer Aged Fourteen: The True Story Behind Degas's Masterpiece
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Little Dancer Aged Fourteen: The True Story Behind Degas's Masterpiece

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3.70  ·  Rating details ·  57 ratings  ·  12 reviews
This absorbing, heartfelt work uncovers the story of the real dancer behind Degas's now-iconic sculpture, and the struggles of late nineteenth-century Parisian life.

She is famous throughout the world, but how many know her name? You can admire her figure in Washington, Paris, London, New York, Dresden, or Copenhagen, but where is her grave? We know only her age, fourteen
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Hardcover, 176 pages
Published November 20th 2018 by Other Press (NY)
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Diane S ☔
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
It was on an eighth grade school trip to the Chicago Art museum when I fell in love with the paintings of Degas. His painitings of ballerinas fascinated me, at that time I thought the life of a ballerina was one of elegance and grace. Of course, now I know it also includes a great deal of work and pain.

This is a slim book, and instead of focusing on his paintings, though of course that is mentioned on well, focuses on a sculpture he made of a young ballerina. Her features distorted to look almo
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Paulette Illmann
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having read the historical fiction The Painted Girls, when I saw Little Dancer Aged Fourteen on the shelf at my local library, I couldn't resist. So little is known of the girl who posed for the famous statue by Degas, the book is a mere 147 pages, most of it trying to piece together what is known of the young ballet dancers of the time with the reality of one. It's like a genealogy project that provides some answers, but leaves you with more questions.
Msimone
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Before reading this book, I thought of Degas as an impressionist who captured the technique of dancers and their glamorous world of the Paris Opera in the 19th century. Degas frequently depicted ballet dancers at class, on stage, or among their demi-monde patrons. I now see the réalisme of his art after having read this book that investigates the identity of a young girl he used her as his model for the "Little Dancer."

When Degas first exhibited the "Little Dancer" , art reviews were harshly cr
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Cat
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoy works by Degas! Receiving this book was a real joy!This short read is a bio on Marie Genevieve van Goethem, who modeled for Degas to earn extra money. She was a young dancer for the Paris Opera, but did not advance very far in the profession. It didn't pay very well either. The story also tells of her family and the poverty they suffered. One really never thinks about the models used in paintings and sculptures, so finding books written about them is really very fascinating. This one is ...more
Ann
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I began thinking it was an imagination of the life of the model. I found, rather, a careful and thoughtful thesis delving into the relationships of artist, model, and sculpture. We meet Marie and Degas in their parallel lives and their respective roles in society. That sounds very academic, but the book rather creates a nebulus and then finds a spark of truth, I think.
Fascinating read; drags a bit in the middle, and then really takes off. Stick it out until the end - it's worth it.
Catherine
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The last book I read in 2018. Not sure that this is the true story behind Degas' masterpiece so much as part of the true story but it was interesting & I learning some things & although the book was a little draggy in parts it got better & was worth finishing & was overall rather thought-provoking which is not a bad thing for a book to be
Jamie
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, art, france, essays
Really more of a lengthy essay than a biography of the dancer. Interesting about the nature of art both then and now, with a lot to think about in terms of class that feels contemporary (not in a good way)
Erin Simone
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The sculpture allows the emptiness around her to be suggested: no scenery, no company. You walk around a sculpture, taking it in from all sides the way you might examine a question from every angle. The 'little Nana' stands against a backdrop of nothingness." p. 38
Julie
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating look, both at Degas, and at the culture behind the young ballet dancers of the time.
Kathleen Kuritz
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Important book. Beautifully written and translated.
Marie
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received an uncorrected ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 3.8 / 5


In Little Dancer Aged Fourteen: The True Story Behind Degas's Masterpiece, Camille Laurens explores the story behind the girl who posed for Edgar Degas’ famous Little Dancer sculpture. We learn her name, Marie Genevieve van Goethem, and gain insight into the life of a “little rat” at the Paris Opera. Not much is known about her - her time spent working for very little wages at the Opera, posing for artists like Degas,
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Liz
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This would have made an excellent long piece in a magazine. Instead , a not very substantial story was bloated into a short book. Still, I think it is wonderful that the author gave the the model Marie Genevieve van Goethem so much consideration.
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My French Life™ -...: LITTLE DANCER AGED FOURTEEN 1 3 Oct 24, 2018 04:11AM  
28 followers
Camille Laurens sur les hommes qu'elle décrit dans son livre..


Elle ne va pas à leur rencontre, du moins pas comme on pourrait croire. Elle ne fond pas sur eux pour les capter, les saisir, leur parler. Elle les regarde. Elle se replit de leur iamge comme un lac du reflet d'un ciel. Elle les maintient d'abord dans cette distance qui permet de les réfléchir. Les hommes restent donc là longtemps, en f
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