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René Blum and the Ballets RussesIn Search of a Lost Life$
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Judith Chazin-Bennahum

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195399332

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195399332.001.0001

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René Blum, Man of Letters

René Blum, Man of Letters

(p.24) Chapter 2 René Blum, Man of Letters
René Blum and the Ballets Russes

Judith Chazin-Bennahum

Oxford University Press

This chapter follows Blum’s career first as a young man in the offices of Revue Blanche where he met great poets such as Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Valéry, artists such as Edouard Vuillard, Edgar Dégas, and Pierre Bonnard, and musicians such as Claude Debussy. It describes Blum’s writings, which reveal his essential openness to innovation and brilliant style. As editor of Gil Blas, he became a strong advocate for writers such as Tristan Bernard and Georges Courteline, creating a society for men of letters. He also spoke eloquently about understanding the importance of production values in a theatrical piece. The book explores Blum’s witty and adventurous plays that examine topics such as the intense materialism of the period, and the tragedy of unrequited love. This discussion then describes how Blum came to appreciate and promote deluxe or beautifully illustrated books, often by great painters. He also edited an extensive two-volume sports encyclopedia. When Blum became the artistic director of the Théâtre de Monte-Carlo, he produced the work of English playwrights, such as Shaw, and French playwrights, such as Marcel Pagnol and Colette. The chapter continues by shedding light on the fact that Blum rewrote well-known operettas for the stage in Monte Carlo, bringing new life to old stories, and ends with his greatest project: the resurrection of the Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo in 1932.

Keywords:   Blum’s theatre criticism, musical and artistic savant, George Bernard Shaw, Léon Blum’s influence, friendship, Vuillard, Gil Blas, Blum as playwright

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