Cover for NIJINSKY: The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky. Click for larger image

The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky

A uniquely personal record of a great artistís descent into madness

In his prime, Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950) was the most celebrated man in Western ballet--a virtuoso and a dramatic dancer such as European and American audiences had never seen before. After his triumphs in such works as The Specter of the Rose and Petrouchka, he set out to make ballets of his own, and with his Afternoon of a Faun and The Rite of Spring, created within a year of each other, he became balletís first modernist choreographer. Then, still in his twenties, he began to go mad.

For six weeks in early 1919, as his tie to reality was giving way, Nijinsky kept a diary--the only sustained daily record we have, by a major artist, of the experience of entering psychosis. In some entries he is filled with hope. He is God; he will save the world. In other entries, he falls into a black despair. He is dogged by sexual obsessions and grief over World War I. Furthermore, he is afraid that he is going insane.

The diary was first published in 1936, in a version heavily bowdlerized by Nijinskyís wife. The new edition, translated by Kyril FitzLyon, is the first complete and accurate English rendering of this searing document. In her introduction, noted dance critic Joan Acocella tells Nijinskyís story and places it in the context of early European modernism.

"A richly literate and annotated translation . . . Acocella is a masterful midwife to this extraordinary tale."--Janice Ross, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"This moving document . . . begs fresh interpretations of [Nijinsky's] life, artistry, ideas and psychological history."--Daniel Gesmer, The New York Times

Joan Acocella is the dance critic for The New Yorker. She is the author of Mark Morris and Creating Hysteria: Women and Multiple Personality Disorder.

To order online:

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
George Szell

A Life of Music

Michael Charry

Five Lives in Music

Women Performers, Composers, and Impresarios from the Baroque to the Present

Cecelia Hopkins Porter

Contested Terrain

Reflections with Afghan Women Leaders

Sally L. Kitch

Locomotive to Aeromotive

Octave Chanute and the Transportation Revolution

Simine Short

One Woman in a Hundred

Edna Phillips and the Philadelphia Orchestra

Mary Sue Welsh

Appalachian Dance

Creativity and Continuity in Six Communities

Susan Eike Spalding

Eugene Kinckle Jones

The National Urban League and Black Social Work, 1910-1940

Felix L. Armfield

Becoming Julia de Burgos

The Making of a Puerto Rican Icon

Vanessa Pérez Rosario

Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement

Edited by Drid Williams and Brenda Farnell