HAUNTS OF THE BLACK MASSEUR - the Swimmer as Hero

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9780099223313: HAUNTS OF THE BLACK MASSEUR - the Swimmer as Hero
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In a masterful work of cultural history, Charles Sprawson, himself an obsessional swimmer and fluent diver, explores the meaning that different cultures have attached to water. Sprawson compares the meaning various societies have assigned to swimming—from classical Greece and imperial Rome to nineteenth-century England and Germany and the U.S. and Japan in the last fifty years. Sprawson gives us fascinating glimpses of the great swimmer heroes: Byron leaping dramatically into the surf at Shelley’s beach funeral; Edgar Allen Poe’s lone and mysterious river-swims; Rupert Brooke swimming naked with Virginia Woolf; Hart Crane swallow-diving to his death in the Bay of Mexico; Johnny Weismuller as athlete and entertainer. Informed by the literature of Swinburne, Goethe, Scott Fitzgerald, and Yukio Mishima; the films of Reifenstahl and Vigo; the Hollywood “swimming musicals” of the 1930s; and delving in and out of Olympic history, Haunts of the Black Masseur is a celebration of swimming that explores aspects of culture in a heretofore unimagined way.

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About the Author:

Charles Sprawson is an obsessional swimmer and diver. He recently swam the Hellespont.

From Publishers Weekly:

Sprawson, an English art dealer who swam the Hellespont, has produced a delightful, profound cultural and literary history of swimming, bathing and the social meanings of water from ancient Greece to the modern Olympics. Swimmers, he contends, frequently fall prey to delusions and neuroses spawned by their solitary training. Flaubert and Shelley had an "erotic, neurotic affinity with water"; Swinburne took a masochistic delight in being scraped by pebbles and pounded by waves; and novelist Baron Corvo (Frederick Rolfe), a passionate swimmer, bathed in "morbid self-admiration and absorption in a fantasy world." Sprawson deftly probes the differing values associated with swimming by various cultures. The English, who swam naked until the Victorian Age, saw bathing as a means of social reform. Germans from Goethe to Thomas Mann linked swimming to a Faustian quest for knowledge, to spiritual perfection and, in Leni Riefenstahl's films, to a cult of athleticism. In the U.S., according to Sprawson, swimming has been associated with refuge and withdrawal, citing as examples F. Scott Fitzgerald's fiction and David Hockney's paintings of Southern California. This invigorating excursion affords a fabulous dip with the likes of Poe, Byron, Virginia Woolf, Yukio Mishima, Esther Williams and Johnny Weissmuller. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780816635399: Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0816635390 ISBN 13:  9780816635399
Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2000
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9780140235463: Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero

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