Out of this Century by Peggy Guggenheim - review by Piers Paul Read

Piers Paul Read

Rich Bitch

Out of this Century

By

Andre Deutsch 396pp £7.95 order from our bookshop
 

To reminisce about Peggy Guggenheim in the way she reminisces about others in this book, she was a great friend of my father, Herbert Read. ‘He became a sort of father in my life and behind his back I called him Papa. He treated me the way Disraeli treated Queen Victoria. I suppose I was rather in love with him, spiritually.’ He would stay with her when in Venice to judge the Biennale and once or twice as children we went with him. I remember on one occasion that my parents slept in grandeur on the main floor of the Palazzo Venier dei Leone while we were put in a damp basement room which their famous dogs (one of which she had dubbed ‘Sir Herbert’ pour encourager la Reine) used as a lavatory. Embarrassed Italian servants in white jackets came down to sweep up their turds. She was almost the only very rich friend my father had: I was not impressed by her way of life.

The attraction of these memoirs is in their sincerity and vulgarity: wittingly or unwittingly she exposes herself as a rich bitch who escaped from the Jewish haute bourgeoisie of New York to lord it in European bohemia – wandering from rented house to rented house in France, Italy and England;

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