Diaghilev's Empire: How the Ballets Russes Enthralled the World

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Product Details

$35.00  $32.55
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date
6.26 X 9.26 X 1.23 inches | 1.42 pounds

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About the Author

Rupert Christiansen is the dance critic for The Spectator. He was also the dance critic for The Mail on Sunday from 1995 to 2020 and has written on dance-focused subjects for many publications in the United Kingdom and the United States, including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper's & Queen, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Literary Review, Dance Now, and Dance Theatre Journal. He was the opera critic and arts correspondent for The Daily Telegraph from 1996 to 2020 and is the author of a dozen nonfiction books, including Romantic Affinities and City of Light. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1997 and lives in London.


"Amusing and assertive . . . It distills Diaghilev's life down to its concentrated, aromatic, essence . . . [Rupert Christiansen] seems to have undergone the task for the sheer love of it, and his delight is infectious."
--Alexandra Jacobs, The New York Times

"In the early twentieth century, Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes revitalized ballet, and the company remained at the forefront of the international avant-garde for decades. In this rich account, Christiansen . . . makes a convincing case for its indelible influence."
--The New Yorker

"Engrossing, amusingly opinionated and poignant."
--Lloyd Schwartz, The Wall Street Journal

"Immensely readable and exhaustively researched . . . Delightful . . . [Christiansen] writes about his subject with such descriptive flair and affectionate animation that its very essence leaps off the page."
--Debra Craine, The Times

"The story of Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes has been told many times before, but no one is able to master it more engagingly than Rupert Christiansen . . . Deft, elegant."
--Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian

"A deliciously entertaining account of high art, low cunning and one of the most creative episodes in the history of the arts."
--Louise Levene, Financial Times

"A riveting account of a visionary . . . Written with sympathy and wit, the book is judiciously researched; but, more crucially, it draws on a lifetime of balletomania, giving readers the benefit of exceptional range. It is also a delicious read into the bargain."
--Bryan Karetnyk, The Spectator

"Bursting with extraordinary characters and anecdotes . . . As glitteringly modern as its subject deserves . . . [Christiansen's] skill is to take his readers back to Paris in 1905 and make them feel not merely that they are witnessing the birth of a new art form, but one that it was imperative to be part of."
--Anne Sebba, The Telegraph

"Wonderfully graceful . . . Star-studded with melodrama and intense emotion . . . [Diaghilev's Empire] elegantly leaps through these highs and lows . . . Christiansen's innovative new book rightly puts Diaghilev on a par with the other impresarios of modernism, and makes a convincing case for this period of ballet to be considered as radical, and as important, as the better-known worlds of art, literature and music."
--Francesca Peacock, Mail on Sunday

"Rupert Christiansen brings his usual elegant prose, gift for insight and ability to find intriguing detail to a superb study of the impresario, one that involves scandal and sensation as well as artistic excellence."
--Martin Chilton, The Independent

"Colorful . . . Very hard to put down . . . An extraordinary saga."
--Michael Church, i News

"In [this] gripping account of Diaghilev's life and art, Christiansen has given something that will last."
--Vivien Schweitzer, The American Scholar

"Sublime art leaps from great showmanship in this vibrant chronicle of early 20th-century ballet . . . A stimulating recreation of a cultural watershed."
--Publishers Weekly

"For the curious reader . . . A fascinating cautionary tale for readers with an interest in ballet history and those who enjoy books about visionaries who weather great failures and great successes."
--Library Journal

"Well-researched [and] full of entertaining stories . . . A comprehensive look at the influence of one of ballet's most famous companies."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Christiansen condenses dramatic history and backstage farce into this dance bio-history for those who can't get enough of dance history."
--Lewis J. Whittington, The Philadelphia Dance Journal

"Rupert Christiansen has produced a spectacular read, one fully (and finally!) deserving of its subject--giddy, kaleidoscopic, rich with quirky detail and strange delight. The pages turn themselves."
--Simon Morrison, author of Bolshoi Confidential