Saturday, March 20, 2010

A social butterfly, not really

Louise Brooks was never a social butterfly. She was loner - especially at the end of her life.

Barry Paris concludes his sublime biography with these words."The real epitaph of Louise Brooks was a brutal one, inspired by her merciless self-criticism and intended neither for sympathy not for public consumption. She confided in a letter, a dozen years before she died, to her brother Theodore: "I have been taking stock of my 50 years since I left Wichita in 1922 at the age of 15 to become a dancer with Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. How I have existed fills me with horror. For I failed in everything - spelling, arithmetic, riding, swimming, tennis, golf; dancing, singing, acting; wife, mistress, whore, friend. Even cooking. And I do not excuse myself with the usual escape of 'not trying.' I tried with all my heart."

Was her beauty her tragedy?


  1. Her intelligence and impossibly high standards were her tragedy, coupled with a consuming self-loathing.

  2. it seems that she was always looking for something more- and didn't find it...

    certainly not in 20s / 30s american film, with its fairly limited places for female actors especially-

    nor with her family, friends and lovers-
    all of whom were kept somewhat distant and apart...

    and neither in herself, sadly.

    and ironically, with regard to the great inspiration her life and work continues to provide to so many others.

    louise brooks only got it half-right when she said that she failed-
    or half-wrong as she might have it...

    as she only would have been a failure if she never stopped trying-
    so her greatest success was living life on her own terms...
    and inspiring others to do the same.

    vincent, in buffalo

  3. No, not her beauty, but what she termed 'the whole sexual truth'. Mr Flowers. The talent and the beauty were partially negated by his act, triggered the 'consuming self-loathing' Mercutia mentions and put in place the auto-destruct button she pressed so often. That she did so WELL in her life despite that is testament to her talent, beauty and sheer bloody-mindedness.


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