Mozart, Goethe, Bernini, Talleyrand, Jaques Louis David, Henry Clay Frick, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Mikhail Psellos – here are some of the great achievers that most people have heard of.
But few know much about their extraordinary lives; fewer still, realize that alongside their grand public persona there was a darker, less attractive one that is reflected in their work. Why have such factors been ignored or underplayed? Deliberate concealment? Difficulty in discovering them? Or a misguided belief that great achievers must be left standing, shining on their pedestals. Modern psychobiography doubts the last reason but accepts the difficulties and dangers that accompany the collation and assessment of relevant information. This book attempts a candid narrative, ‘warts and all’ of the lives of some great figures from the worlds of painting, sculpture, politics, philosophy, law, and business but does so also by placing their lives in the context of their times. The result, a series of essay/ portraits built around themes close to the lives of those described and brought into greater relief by the inclusion of over ninety beautifully reproduced colour illustrations. The aim is to allow the general, educated reader to learn more about the genius of creation. Those interested in history, biography, psychobiography, and the arts, and also believe in the need of a broader culture in times of excessive specialization, will enjoy this candid and wide-ranging book written by a widely travelled and acclaimed author.