9780006388135 / 0006388132

Notorious: Life of Ingrid Bergman


Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers Ltd



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About the book:

Written with the exhaustive thoroughness readers have come to expect from Donald Spoto's celebrity biographies, Notorious moves smoothly through the details of actress Ingrid Bergman's life. Although most will equate the book's title with the 1946 Hitchock film that provided Bergman with one of her more complex and unusually dark roles, the very definition of the word proves an appropriate description of her life; derived from the Latin notus, notorious is defined as "famous or celebrated; secondarily, known for something not generally approved." Disapproval of Bergman--both virulent and far-reaching--stemmed from her extramarital affair with director Roberto Rosellini and the subsequent birth of their son (conceived before their marriage). It is this fall from grace that intrigues Spoto.

In 1939 Ingrid Bergman was hailed as a fresh-faced girl, "dignified, gracious, unpretentious and spiritual", who represented everything good that America loved and needed. Although already a wife and mother, she was most often described as innocent, even virginal. But in 1949 this perception changed, and Bergman was no longer a martyr for the sake of her movies; at the time, she was regarded as the foulest of sinners, a renegade whose "powerful influence for evil" was soon to be condemned in churches, schools, and even on the floor of the U.S. Senate. However, Spoto doesn't neglect Bergman's artistic drive and integrity; he creates a portrait of a woman on trial for aspiring to both professional success and intellectual fulfilment. The details accrue to portray a disarmingly modest professional--at times idolized, at times disparaged, but always skilled and committed.

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