On books: How could I ever pick a favorite! Of course I love the classics – Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and The Beautiful and Damned, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, and Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Tennessee William’s play A Streetcar Named Desire. Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. Plato’s Symposium. Marguerite de Navare’s Heptameron (I’m amazed that something written centuries ago can still be so amusing today).
My favorite genre of books, though, are biographies on historical figures (women in particular) such as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. I read a fascinating biography on Sylvia Plath called Rough Magic. I find it so much more interesting to read about real events and real people. And although it’s not entirely historically accurate, one book I could not put down (I would consider this my favorite if I had to choose) was Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl.
On art: As for art, oh my gosh this is even harder. I will narrow it down by movement. French Impressionism and XVIIIth century French Regency/Rococo have always been my favorite (anything French, really) but I’ve developed a love for Neo-Classicism that comes near to my favorite. One painting in the Louvre that I could stare at forever is Poussin’s Inspiration of the Poet. It’s beautiful and lyrical and just incredibly lovely. I like anything having to do with classical mythology, really. The theme of Leda and the Swan is one of my favorites, not just because I love swans but the way the story is portrayed – beautifully, considering the subject matter – through art across so many different periods is really interesting to me.
On Impressionism: My favorite thing about Impressionism is how well it captures the moment in Parisian life. This period (La Belle Epoque) is to me the ‘golden age’ of Paris – the fashion, the men in coattails and top hats, the cafes, the masked balls, the concert halls, the theaters. Monet is one of my favorite artists. Poppy Field Near Argenteuil is one of my favorite paintings. I love this moment, it looks so peaceful and relaxing. And of course his Nympheas and the namesake of the impressionist movement titled Impression: Sunrise. My other favorite Impressionist is Degas, partly because of how much I love ballet. The colors and movements he captures are so lovely. My favorite piece of his is Les Danseuses Bleus (Blue Dancers). Another painting I could stare at forever.
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