Living Well Is the Best Revenge (Modern Library)

  • Title: Living Well Is the Best Revenge (Modern Library)
  • Author: Calvin Tomkins
  • ISBN: 9780679603085
  • Page: 217
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Living Well Is the Best Revenge Modern Library In this enchanting memoir New Yorker writer Calvin Tomkins re creates the privileged world of Gerald and Sara Murphy two American originals who found themselves at the center of a charmed circle of
    In this enchanting memoir, New Yorker writer Calvin Tomkins re creates the privileged world of Gerald and Sara Murphy, two American originals who found themselves at the center of a charmed circle of artists and expatriate writers in France in the 1920s Their home in Antibes, Villa America, served as a gathering place for Picasso and L ger as well as Hemingway and FitzgerIn this enchanting memoir, New Yorker writer Calvin Tomkins re creates the privileged world of Gerald and Sara Murphy, two American originals who found themselves at the center of a charmed circle of artists and expatriate writers in France in the 1920s Their home in Antibes, Villa America, served as a gathering place for Picasso and L ger as well as Hemingway and Fitzgerald, who used the glamorous couple as models for Dick and Nicole Diver in Tender Is the Night A bestseller when it first appeared in 1971, Living Well Is the Best Revenge features sixty nine intimate photographs collected from the Murphys family album, along with reproductions of several of Gerald Murphy s remarkable paintings canvases that predate Pop Art by forty years Living Well Is the Best Revenge is a superb little study, alive with an elegance very much the Murphys , said Nancy Mitford Critic Russell Lynes found the book to be at once a sharp and charming evocation of an era and a cast, mostly delightful, surely famous, and usually talented, written with an elegant balance between tongue in cheek and sympathy This Modern Library edition includes Calvin Tomkins s new Introduction and a rewritten last chapter.

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    About Calvin Tomkins


    1. Calvin Tomkins has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1960 He wrote his first fiction piece for the magazine in 1958, and his first fact piece in 1962 His many Profile subjects have included Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, Philip Johnson, Julia Child, Georgia O Keeffe, Leo Castelli, Frank Stella, Carmel Snow, Christo and Jeanne Claude, Frank Gehry, Damien Hirst, Richard Serra, Matthew Barney, and Jasper Johns He wrote the Art World column from 1980 to 1988 Before joining The New Yorker, he was a general editor of Newsweek, a post he held from 1957 through 1959 In 1955, he joined Newsweek as an associate editor He is the author of than a dozen books, including The Bride and the Bachelors, Merchants and Masterpieces, Living Well Is the Best Revenge, Off the Wall, Duchamp A Biography, and Lives of the Artists A revised edition of his Duchamp biography came out in 2014.


    642 Comments


    1. Over the last year or so, Gerald and Sara Murphy have emerged as the Lost Generation personalities I would most like to have known. Painted by Picasso, photographed by Man Ray, friends of Ernest Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, Archibald MacLeish, Dorothy Porter and Fernand Léger, Gerald and Sara lived life to the full and worked hard to make their life a work of art. When faced with great personal tragedy, they responded with dignity. This short and well-written memoir f [...]

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    2. I do love the whole 1920s Paris modernist bohemian set, Picasso, Hemingway, Diaghilev, Stein, Scott and Zelda, but until now i'd never come across anyone i'd really want to hang out with. Well, maybe Zelda. Sara and Gerald just seem like such a wonderful, nurturing couple, and so central to the whole spirit of the time. And what a dreamy time it must've been for a short while, to be young and full of beans.

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    3. There is something very aptly highlighted about the title of this book that in turned prompted me to spend time reading it. It's actually a brief book that I finished in a less than a week during my trips to and fro the city. It's a memoir about persons whose lives were the inspiration of the characters in Fitzgerald's 'Tender Is The Night' - it would have helped me a lot to appreciate this memoir better (or put things in a perspective) if I read before that Fitzgerald book or even took time to [...]

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    4. I loved this short book and plan to buy lots of copies and distribute them amongst my deserving friends. It tells the (true)story of Gerald and Sara Murphy, an American couple who fell in love, married, came to France and lived, not just well, but, well, wonderfully. Friends with Picasso and Leger, and Cole Porter, and Hemingway, and Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, who used the Murphys as the Drivers in Tender is the Night, this is a fascinating and somehow very moving tale of a world, which seems t [...]

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    5. I just had to read this book after reading Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzsgerald. I already knew that the Gerald and Sara Murphy were good friends with Cole and Linda Porter. But I didn't know about their friendships with The Fitzsgeralds, The Hemingways, Picasso, and many others. They were the family to know in Paris and were well-liked by all. It was a very interesting read. I enjoyed learning about their own talents and their relationships with their friends. I loved Gerald's paintings. I think my [...]

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    6. Even though I gave it only three stars, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection of articles about a wonderfully unknown talent. What I found most unsatisfying is that it created more questions than answers. For that reason, it made an excellent book club book.I feel like giving any details would be giving spoilers, so I'll just say that it's a must-read for any fans of the Lost Generation, as well as being kind enough go give pointers to other literature of the day.I fully support MoMA's ef [...]

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    7. I enjoyed this slim volume, which tells the story of Gerald and Sara Murphy. But although it was a well-written profile, it is short and a bit shallow. They had a fascinating life, but what did they do? Hanging out with friends may be a fascinating holiday, but nine years? I am however a sucker for American in France memoirs. This one had some lovely images, but enough for a magazine feature article, not a book.

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    8. Lovely interview with Calvin Tomkinseparisreview/blog/20

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    9. Biography. This is a fascinating biography of Gerald and Sara Murphy, two American ex-pats who moved to France in the 1920s and had an amazing circle of friends that included Cole Porter, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Gerald Murphy had a brief career as a painter (1922 – 1929). And, although he produced only 15 works, the 7 that survive are considered American modernist masterpieces. I thoroughly enjoyed this biography.

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    10. Book practically read itself. A concise and lively account of the life and times of Gerald and Sara Murphy, and the little America they set up in 1920s France. The additional section at the end of the book on Gerald Murphy's art (an update from the earlier published article-length account) is particularly interesting, having just come across it for the first time in the fictionalised account presented in Klaussmann's 'Villa America'

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    11. A very eloquent, though short recounting of a couple’s expatriate life in France with contemporaries such as Picasso, Leger, Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds. A nice peek into a true-life golden age couple. Recommend

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    12. Knowing only that it was akin to the Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris, it was with great delight that I dove into Living Well is the Best Revenge, a satisfying romp and a Who’s Who of American expats living in France during the artistically exuberant and modernistic revolution of the 1920’s. First published in 1971, the book has been reprinted with a new introduction by the author, Calvin Tomkin’s, who has been a staff writer for the New Yorker since 1960. I read a dog-eared copy my sis [...]

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    13. Have you ever known people who did everything well, and in such a new, interesting way that it inspired you to live differently and better?This short, exquisite biography of Gerald and Sara Murphy serves to extend the enigma that they took with them everywhere they lived. At under 150 pages, it is only a taste of their story, but it was written in 1962 following a series of interviews with them and their friends, so it paints a rather different and more poignant picture than Vaill's extensive bi [...]

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    14. Interesting as far as it goes. like 2 magazine articles with some great picturesd it was very interesting to see the art of Gerald Murphy if you are interested in that time of Sara and Gerald Murphy and F.Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingwayis is a well written and interesting addition.

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    15. Garald and Sara Murphy pop up in any book about the writers, artists, and American expats living in France in the 1920s, and since I read a lot of those kinds of books, it was good to learn a little more about this couple. This lovely MoMA edition is enhanced by photos (although they are a bit small and hard to really see) and images of Gerald's paintings.

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    16. This fantastic biography kind of ruined Tender is the Night for me. The book is about Gerald and Sara Murphy. They are notable for having been gracious and amusing hosts of wonderful parties for expats in Paris and the French Riviera between the two World Wars. So what? That’s no big deal, right?Their guest list and social circle typically included: Fernand Leger, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Cole Porter, John Dos Passos, Archibald MacLeish, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald a [...]

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    17. Temporary notes/extracts from the text:Hemingway adored Sara Murphy, but he seems to have had reservations about Gerald. He judged men according to his own rigorous standards of masculinity (his favorite comment then about someone he admired was “You’d like him—he’s tough”)At the same time, Gerald always felt a tacit competitiveness on Hemingway’s part, which weighed on their relationship. More than once, when Murphy expressed an opinion with which Hemingway agreed, Hemingway turned [...]

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    18. Short little book about Sara and Gerald Murphy, who were loyal friends of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso, and Cole Porter, among others. They were the inspiration, for the most part, for Fitzgerald's main characters in his novel "Tender Is The Night", and decided early on not to live their lives like ordinary people do, but to have an imaginative life of their own creation. This book is full of some wild stories about them and all of the people I've mentioned above. Sara and Gera [...]

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    19. Love this quick bio of Americans Gerald and Sara Murphy, friends and comrades of the artistic expats that were living in Paris during the 20's. Lots of pictures with Picasso, Hemingway, the Fitzgerald's, etc. But most interesting is that Fitzgerald used this couple as a model for Dick and Nicole Diver, the main characters in Tender Is the Night. The Divers, however, ended up morphing into Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald's book depicts their downward slide. The real couple, the Murphys, [...]

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    20. fantastic biography about the early lives of american expats sara and gerald murphy who supported generously the 1920s arts and letters expats (cole porter, picasso, fitzgerald and hemingway, etc) - they also helped invent the french riviera season when they bought and threw parties in their villa america home in cap d'antibes. Known for perfecting the art of living and their love of life, friends and the arts, living well was their best revenge for tragic turn of events they later (sadly) exper [...]

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    21. Some things just cannot be explained. What was the charm of the Murphys? I have yet to read anything that explains the magic they created for their friends. In spite of that I enjoyed this book very much. I have read criticism of Everyone Was So Young, Amanda Vaill's 1998 book, saying that it gives too much detail about the lives of Gerald and Sara and their ex-pat life. Living Well is hundreds of pages shorter and has great pictures of the famous friends and of Gerald's art. The last section of [...]

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    22. A friend recommended this book to me, and I'm sad to say, it mostly reminded me why I don't generally read nonfiction. The book was either too short or too long. I was enjoying the tales of the gregarious Murphy clan, until the focus shifted to their relationship with the Fitzgeralds. A lot seemed to be glossed over, which would have been fine, but for the nagging suspicion that there was a lot left unsaid. The bit at the end about Gerald Murphy's art was terrible and did not fit with the rest o [...]

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    23. The life of Gerald and Sara Murphy in the 1920s France was so glamorous and exciting, surrounded by so many talented friends such as Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso and Léger. Gerald himself became a painter, and although he was active for only 8 years, his work is absolutely beautiful. I think one of the main theme of this book is "why did he start painting and why did he quit?" And "what was the 'revenge' for?" It was fun reading as I tried to find the answers to these questions.

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    24. First of all, I just have to mention what a beautiful little book this is. The cover is beautiful, the end pages are beautiful, and I love the way the book feels in my hands. With that in mind, the best thing I can say about the writing is that it lives up to its packaging. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and especially loved reading what was written about the Murphys by someone who knew and loved them.

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    25. This is a lovely small book, with great pictures of the Murphy's life style in France and even some photos of the few paintings by Gerald Murphy. I had read most of this a long time ago, but it was great to revisit the life of the people who so strongly influenced Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and were so much a part of the romantic 1920's period in France when life was so newly "invented".

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    26. A slight (148 pages including 52 pages of pictures) look at Sara and Gerald Murphy and their friends. Lots of mentions of their famous friends but Scott and Zelda get the most coverage. Might spark someone's interest to read more if this was unfamiliar territory, but this is in no way any sort of definitive bio.

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    27. Really a 3.5. This is a breezy little history that transports you to another era perfectly. I rarely run across a history book that makes good beach reading but this one does. Sort of wish little books like these were written more often. Also, I wish I could steal Tomkins writing style.

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    28. One more book about the Murphy's, Sara and Gerald, that show how lovely they were. If you want to know a bit about them, read this, if you want to know more read Everybody Was So Young. They are a fascinating couple that lived well, suffered much, and had the most interesting friends.

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    29. A terse but magnificently rendered portrait of life among the "lost generation" of expatriates and artists living in France in the 1920s and 1930s, from the point of a couple who (to their chagrin) partially inspired the central characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Tender is the Night."

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    30. Who were Gerald and Sara Murphy? Why should they be remembered? Because they helped to create the myth of the South of France. Having been overshadowed by their much more famous guests, Calvin Tomkins can be said to have started the process of bringing the Murphys back into the sunlight.

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