Sylvie Weil, Ros Schwartz, Cecile Menon, Vivian Maier, Marc Riboud
Taking selfies is not the exclusive preserve of millennials. In Selfies, the niece of French philosopher Simone Weil, also daughter of one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the 20th c., gives a playful twist to the concept of self-representation: taking her cue from self-portraits by women artists, ranging from the 13th c. through the Renaissance to Frida Kahlo and Vivian Maier, Weil has written a memoir in pieces, that is yet unified. Each picture acts as a portal to a significant moment from Weil’s own life (as schoolgirl, writer, daughter and mother) and sparks anecdotes tangentially touching on topical issues (from the Palestinian question to the pain of a mother witnessing her son’s psychotic breakdown, to the subtle manifestations of anti-Semitism, to ageism, genetics, and a Jewish dog…). Switching from poignant to light-hearted, with Weil’s trademark irony and self-deprecating humour, Selfies is a sophisticated, `delightful read’, with heartwrenching tendencies. (Front cover photograph: VIVIAN MAIER, Self-portrait, New York, NY, 1955 copyright Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York. End page photograph of the author by Marc Riboud, courtesy of Catherine Riboud, Paris.)
'A beguiling series of vignettes, by turns wry, amusing and disturbing, inspired by self-portraits by women artists and reflecting on the images they provoke. An illuminating survey of the author's various identities, in a fractured world, as mother, lover and writer.' - Michele Roberts. 'A new genre is born: the short selfie collection! Lively, inventive, compassionate, aching, morally complex and troubling, I loved these self-portraits more than anything I've read lately.' - Lauren Elkin. 'In Selfies Sylvie Weil uses a work of an artist to set the theme for a snapshot of a past episode in her life. These selfies are exquisite vignettes - intelligent, witty, observant, sometimes poignant, and beautifully written - the elegance of the original French apparent in this fine English translation.' - Piers Paul Read . 'If yesteryear's painted self-portraits were as concerned with pose and presentation as are today's phone selfies, Sylvie Weil is the ideal analyst of what may lie behind the image. In a sequence of transpositions of the work of women portraitists from the Renaissance onwards, she applies their appearance to her experience, and implies a continuity in women's self-presentation. Like them, Sylvie Weil has an illustrious heritage (daughter to Andre a brilliant and renowned mathematician; niece to Simone, a brilliant and renowned philosopher). Unlike them, she moves from the visual to the verbal, expressive of both profound truth and imagination.' - Amanda Hopkinson.Reviews of Sylvie Weil's 'At Home with Andre and Simone', published by Northwestern University Press, USA, 2010 : `...an elegant and witty memoir-cum-reflection.' -The Spectator. 'Sylvie Weil's memoir is simply one of the best books I've read in the past decade. At turns poignant, poetic, and deeply personal' - Paul LeClerc, president, The New York Public Library. 'The missing link in the story of Andre and Simone Weil is Sylvie Weil, daughter of the great mathematician, niece of the legendary philosopher. In her memoirs... the 'merely' personal is transformed into something rich and strange.' -Palle Yourgrau, author of A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Goedel and Einstein.
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