John McEwen

I am God, I am God

A Life of Picasso: Volume III – The Triumphant Years, 1917–1932


Jonathan Cape 608pp £30 order from our bookshop

The first volume of John Richardson’s definitive life of Picasso was published by Cape in 1991, the second in 1996. This long-awaited third volume has all the virtues of the previous two: a many-spiced cocktail of gossip and connoisseurship, written with the spontaneity of an extended letter by one who, through age and circumstance, has an insider’s knowledge of the subject. Richardson knew the haut monde and the demi-monde about which he writes and, crucially, he knew Picasso.

The style and attitude of the book suit its subject, who enjoyed being à la page and was elitist to the point of believing himself to be God. ‘God is really another artist … like me … I am God, I am God, I am God’, he insisted to a Spanish friend in the 1930s. Today, when egalitarianism is a driving force in academia as elsewhere, such belief in hierarchies and excellence may well strike a younger generation as quaint. But that was the way it was and, for those like the author lucky enough to have known it, the way it should remain. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,