I've just finished the biography of Rosamund Lehmann by Selena Hastings. Fascinating. A life more strange than fiction. - A beautiful, talented girl and woman who knew intimately
|The shy, clever, seductive |
intensely self-aware young beauty,,,
On the downside she was narcissistic and stunningly passive aggressive. Possessing enormous and seductive charm she looked for admiration and obsession from those around her -men and women - and was a terrible enemy to those who - as she saw it - rejected her. (Most famously Cecil Day Lewis.) She was case-book paronoid and obsessed with the emotions of the people with whom she was intimate.
She was incontinently disclosive in her desire to express her pain at the way people -0 as she saw it - were treating her. As she grew older (scenes of things to come for some of us ...) she became something of a monstre sacre, ballooning because of her child like love of sweet things but still seeing the woman in the mirror as the beauty she had been.
This biographer was one of those who admired and loved her but witnessed this ultimate decay of a unique personality. Her critical assessment of the few novels is admiring but very sharp in its insight regarding the inferred autobiographical nature of the characters and their doomed emotional journeys.
Reading biographies is a two edged pleasure. On the one hand it gives an illuminating
|Still beautiful, seductive, clever,|
and intensely self-aware in old age.
This biography, however, has sent me back to Lehmann's novels - particularly Weather in The Streets. Nobody does better than Lehmann a woman's yearning to be loved and her desolation at being rejected.
In the light of the contemporary Women's Prize for Writing, there is much discussion about whether there is such a thing as 'Women's Writing'. Lehmann - much admired by men - disliked to be known as a women's writer but I feel this biography shows her as just that.
And being a bit that way myself, I found her ill-fated late-life obsession with life after death fascinating....
- a good read on a cold dark day!