The beginning of March is not only about inspiration, flowers and World Women’s Day. It is also a dank wind, a transition to a new daylight hours and vitamin deficiency. In order for beautiful girls not to lose faith in themselves and in spring, we have prepared a festive top, collecting the most inspiring biographies of great women.
1. Henri Troyet “Catherine the Great” (2005)
Catherine II needs no introduction – that’s why she is the Great. Meanwhile, school knowledge hardly gives at least some understanding of what kind of grandiose personality the Empress of All Russia was. “The search for joy, as she believes, is the duty of each of us. Since childhood, she has developed this optimistic attitude. For her, this is a system, compulsory spiritual hygiene. Every time she is threatened with new care, she calls on her cheerfulness for help. “You have to be funny,” she writes. “This is the only way to overcome and endure everything.”
Under the sonorous pseudonym Henri Troyes is Lev Aslanovich Tarasov, a French writer with Russian roots, who wrote dozens of books about the history of Russia. Henri Troyat sculpted a large-scale and voluminous biography of the great Catherine Alekseevna, nee Sophia Augusta Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst, taking as a basis the canvas of historical and political events. After reading the book, we are faced with not that stereotyped and faceless image, but a living image of a witty and strong woman, whom Voltaire admired and from whom not only “overseas” countries trembled, but the whole of Russia.
2. Henri Gidel “Coco Chanel” (2008)
It is difficult to resist the temptation and not to devote a song, poem, picture, perfume or book to this woman. The shelves of books and libraries are lined with biographies of the legendary Chanel, and the book by the French writer Henri Guidel remains a classic.
This is a gripping, sensual novel in perfect execution, the plot of which is the life of Coco Chanel. A handbag on a long chain, a small black dress, the fragrance “Chanel No. 5” – these are just a few of Gabrielle’s discoveries in the fashion world. In addition to the modernization of the female costume, Coco became known for her difficult disposition, unbending character, cooperation with the German government during the Second World War, and close relations with Igor Stravinsky. All this can be found in more detail in the biography of “Coco Chanel”, where this heroine is sung – refined, strong, legendary.
“Koko liked to sit in the dining room by the fireplace, thrust one hand into her pocket (and gesticulate with the other), and alternating her speech with laughter, she began to tell in a slightly hoarse voice (she had an extraordinary gift of a storyteller) anecdotes, sometimes mischievous, about herself and about her friends, who were her favorite target and with whom she did not always stand on ceremony. She was a master at inserting a hairpin. “
3. Lydia Chukovskaya “Notes about Anna Akhmatova” (1989)
A lively dialogue with a poet, a voluminous document of the era, poetry through reflections on the ordinary – all this constitutes the “notes” of Lydia Chukovskaya. In three volumes, covering several decades from the life of Akhmatova, the author’s reflections on the best lines of Russian literature, memoirs about the great people of the era, and, of course, Anna Andreevna herself.
Lydia Chukovskaya – writer, editor, publicist, dissident, daughter of Korney Chukovsky, spent a lot of time with Akhmatova, helping with the publication of the last collection of poems during her lifetime. She wrote down dialogues with the poet, keeping a kind of diary of their meetings and conversations. After Akhmatova’s death, Lydia Chukovskaya revised her diary entries, combining them into three volumes. For a long time it was not possible to publish the notes at home, only in 1976 the first volume was published in Paris. Oblivion, fear, “terrible years of Yezhovism”, literature, war – the author writes about all this honestly and truthfully, “in hot pursuit.” This is what conquers.
“Leningrad is generally unusually adapted for disasters,” said Anna Andreevna. – This cold river, over which there are always heavy clouds, these menacing sunsets, this operatic, terrible moon … Black water with yellow reflections of light … Everything is scary. I can’t imagine what catastrophes and troubles look like in Moscow: there is no such thing there ”.
4. Lilya Brik “Biased Stories” (2011)
“… I / not a single ringing is joyful / except for the ringing of your favorite name…” – Vladimir Mayakovsky wrote to Lilya Brik with tenderness. Probably everyone knows about this great love, but not everyone knows what kind of person Lilya Brik was. The mystery of the “amazon of the avant-garde” still remains unsolved, but the book “Biased Stories” provides a unique opportunity – to get closer to this muse of the early 20th century.
“Volodya and I did not part, went to the islands, wandered around the streets a lot. Volodya will put on a top hat, I will put on a large black hat with feathers, and we will go along the evening Nevsky, for example, for a pencil for the Axis. It is still light, and it will be light all night. The lanterns are on, but they do not shine, as if they were not lit, but always like that. We go into the store, and Mayakovsky with a mysterious look turns to the saleswoman: “Mademoiselle, please give us a wild-o-wine pencil, so that on one side it is red, and on the other, imagine, blue!”
This book is Lily Brick’s dream of a separate edition of her own memoirs, which she wrote all her life. The book is woven from simple, personal and very characteristic memories. These are stories about Mayakovsky, Osip Brik, about other poets and friends of Lily, characterizing not just individuals, but conveying the spirit of the era. “Biased stories” are supplemented by rare and soulful photographs of Lilya Yuryevna and her entourage, as well as copies of letters from Mayakovsky, where instead of a signature the poet draws cute puppies.
5. Hayden Herrera “Frida Kahlo” (2011)
Magdalena Carmen Frida Kalo-Calderón is a Mexican artist whose popularity has reached an incredible peak today. The interest in this bright figure is easy to explain: you can hardly meet the second woman in whose life there were so many tragedies, pain, betrayals, but who continued to love, fight for life and create. Frida’s painting is centripetal, and the main genre is the self-portrait, through which the artist talks about her experiences and joys. Therefore, to understand the work of this artist, you need to know not only the basics of Mexican folk culture, but also the life of Frida.
All this information can be gleaned from the magnificent book by Hayden Herrera, which managed to convey the complex and contradictory person of the artist. Herrera is meticulous and attentive to detail, but also with surprising ease and skill she describes large-scale events in Frida’s life, such as her love for the famous artist Diego Rivera. The text is woven into the memories of Frida herself, letters from friends and lovers.
6. Edith Piaf “My Life” (1992)
The great French singer, who proclaimed the song “No, I do not regret anything,” as the slogan of her life, wrote her memoirs at the very end of her life. She, like any famous person, was driven by the desire to tell the truth that will remain in this world along with the songs. This is how the book “My Life” turned out – without embellishment, without makeup, without shame, without acting.
The “Little Sparrow” of the Parisian scene begins its history from the streets of Paris, where she was forced to sing in order to somehow feed herself. Early blindness, epiphany, cabaret, meningitis, death of a little daughter, performances, murder charges, loss of a husband, theater, war, fame … It seems too many events for one “Little Piaf”. Talking about her life – difficult, “wrong”, magical and tragic, Piaf admits that the only excuse for her is love for life and for people. Amorous and sincere, she recalls Raymond Asso, Charles Aznavour, Yves Montana and her other great lovers and faithful friends.
It was this love that made her straighten her shoulders and boldly walk on, despite all the difficulties. This love and, of course, her music. “My true calling is to sing. Sing, no matter what happens! My songs are me, my flesh, my head, my heart, my soul. My songs are my life. “
7. Oleg Dorman “Interlinear. The life of Lilianna Lungina, told by her in the film by Oleg Dorman “(2013)
Carlson, Emil from Lenberga, Pippi Longstocking – all these characters became faithful companions of Russian children thanks to the translator Lilianna Lungina. A Russian philologist, scientist, she translated not only children’s literature from French, German, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish. Her life is comparable to a novel, where the story of the hero and the whole country is tightly intertwined: childhood in France, Germany and Palestine, the fate of emigrants, great love, war, “thaw”, a new era …
Director Oleg Dorman, who shot a biographical film series based on Lungina’s memories, later released a separate book with the translator’s monologues. Lilianna Zinovievna simply, but at the same time wisely and subtly, tells a story that is so similar to the fate of the great Soviet writers or scientists, and which is so unique.
“Life is crazy, but still beautiful. She is insane, scary, terrible, but at the same time beautiful, and I still think that the good in her prevails over the bad. Over the terrible. Because the main thing in this life is people, and there are many more wonderful people than you might imagine. So, after all, the good triumphs over the bad. We must take a closer look at the people around. Maybe you will not immediately see that they are wonderful – you have to give yourself the trouble to discern what a person carries in himself. And maybe this is also a small path leading to some kind of joy. “
8. Margaret Thatcher “Autobiography” (2014)
The first and only woman to serve as Prime Minister of Great Britain, she reveals all the cards, telling her life. This is the story of the struggle not only with patriarchal foundations, prejudice against women politicians, but also the story of the search for a balance of public life and internal freedom. In this sincere and honest book, the author removes the “iron” mask, revealing himself to the readers as an interesting personality, sensitive and emotional woman.
“I often think how lucky it is that I was born in 1925, and not twenty years earlier. Until the 1930s, a young girl living in a small provincial English town would not have had the opportunity to experience such a range of talent, dramatic form, human emotion, sex appeal, showiness and style. For a girl born 20 years later, all these things were commonplace and taken for granted. Grantham was a small town, but when I went to the cinema, I got into the most fabulous realms of the imagination. It brought up in me the determination to plunge into reality one day. “
Margaret Thatcher, who created her original line in politics, has long been and remains a role model for many women. And even if you are not going to become a politician, you can still be inspired by the story of this woman, her resilience, optimism and faith in a person. Thatcher’s autobiography is a real motivator for those who have doubts and difficulties on the way to their dreams.
9. Maya Plisetskaya “I, Maya Plisetskaya” (1997)
“What else are you interested in learning about me, reader? That I am left-handed and do everything with my left hand? That I have suffered from insomnia all my life? That I’ve always been conflicted? Crawling on the rampage in vain? What combined two poles in me – could I be wasteful and greedy, brave and cowardly, queen and shy? That I read nourishing face creams and loved, having been thickly smeared with them, playing solitaire in the kitchen?What was an ardent football cheerleader? That she loved herring, tenderly calling it “herring”? That I never smoked and that I didn’t like smokers, that a glass of wine made my head hurt? For the life I have lived, I have endured a simple philosophy. Simple – like a mug of water, like a breath of air. People are not divided into classes, races, state systems. People are divided into good and bad. Very good and very bad. The only way”
Autobiography of passionate Carmen, the most lyrical Swan and the most famous Russian ballerina of the 20th century. Plisetskaya, who inspires choreographers, composers, directors, fashion designers, dancers, breeders (one of the peony varieties is named after her), left behind several memoirs, including her first book “I, Maya Plisetskaya”. Prompt, harsh, honest, decisive, uncompromising lines of Plisetskaya amaze as well as her dance. In the book, the great dancer talks about her life, about the Bolshoi Theater, about her romance with ballet, about the dawn and the zenith of fame. The autobiography will be of interest not only to fans of Maya Plisetskaya, but to everyone interested in ballet and Russian culture.
10. Audrey Hepburn “Confessions of love” (2012)
Light, sincere, humane – all this applies to both the personality of Audrey Hepburn and her autobiography. Audrey learned about the incurability of her illness just a few months before her death. She began to write memoirs in which one could not hear despondency, sadness or resentment at her fate – only declarations of love to the most dear people. “They say love is the most profitable investment, the more you give, the more you get in return. That’s not the point: love is the most unique contribution – the more you give it, the more it is born in yourself. If everyone understood this, how much easier it would be to live. “Reading light and sincere memoirs, one wonders how this fragile old woman (she began to write “confessions” at the age of sixty-three) is surprisingly preserved childish purity, kindness and spiritual strength. The head-spinning actress, the model who inspired Hubert de Givenchy, she was most proud of the title of UNICEF Special Ambassador. Audrey devoted all her strength to improving the lives of children from the poorest countries in the world. On the set of Always, Steven Spielberg did not think about who would play the Angel: the role of the light heavenly creature was the last for Audrey Hepburn.