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From this prodigiously talented writer, a stunningly original "life" of F. W. Murnau, the German director.
In the history of cinema, this novel's protagonist and subject ranks as a founding father, not least for his legendary horror film, Nosferatu. But here he is revealed as a hermetic genius who turns, tragically, against himself, becoming in a sense his own vampire. What shadows Shepard's Murnau--through the airfields of the Great War to cafés and clubs in Berlin in the twenties, and to the virtual invention of filmmaking--is the conflict between his impossibly high ideals and the heartbreaking memories of love betrayed and the lover who died in the trenches.
From provincial Germany, briefly through Hollywood in its early days, to the South Seas, Nosferatu charts a life at once artistic, intellectual, and deeply human.
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"Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe had been raised in silence and routine in a cool blue nursery at the beginning of a comfortable era in his family's fortunes." From that cool blue nursery, the young man who started out his life in quiet, rural anonymity ended it decades later in a highway accident just south of Santa Barbara, California. In between, F. W. Plumpe metamorphosed into F. W. Murnau, one of the greatest film directors in history. Perhaps the most famous of Murnau's movies was Nosferatu, a silent-film treatment of the Dracula story, made in 1921. Vampirism is a strangely apt metaphor for Murnau's life--it was not until his lover, Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele, died in the trenches of World War I that Murnau's artistic genius achieved its highest levels--and so Nosferatu is also the title of Jim Shepard's novel based on the filmmaker's life.
Shepard takes his readers on a journey through a tortured soul. We first meet the young, awkward Friedrich on his way to school in Berlin, where he meets Hans on a railway platform and falls in love. Through his association with Hans, Murnau has the chance to give free rein to his love of theater, and this early section of the novel is a veritable who's who of the German literary and artistic world in the early 1900s. Soon, however, personal betrayal and the Great War put an end to Murnau's idyll. Guilt-ridden over Hans's death, Murnau turns back to art after the war and begins work on his masterpiece, Nosferatu. The chapter devoted to the making of this film is perhaps the strongest part of the novel. From here until the novel's end, Shepard deftly limns the contours of artistic obsession and creation as Murnau continues to make films, first in Germany and then in Hollywood. If the book's latter chapters never again approach the peculiar passion of the first half, they are nevertheless a fascinating glimpse into the heart and mind of a troubled genius.About the Author:
The author of four earlier novels and Batting Against Castro, a collection of stories, Jim Shepard lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
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Book Description Knopf, 1998. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0679446672
Book Description Knopf, 1998. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0679446672
Book Description Knopf, 1998. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition.... Knopf (New York), 1998. First edition. Hardbound. New in dust jacket. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. A perfect unread copy. Novel. (Not a novelization of the film, but a fictional biography of the film director's life). 0.0. Signed by Author(s). Seller Inventory # 4352