Disarmed

The Story of the Venus de Milo

By Gregory Curtis
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781400031337, 276pp.)

Publication Date: November 9, 2004

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Description

In the spring of 1820, on the Aegean island of Melos, an unsuspecting farmer was digging for marble building blocks when he unearthed the statue that would come to be known as the Venus de Milo. From the moment of its discovery a battle for possession ensued and was won, eventually, by the French. Touted by her keepers in the Louvre as the great classical find of the era, the sculpture gained instant celebrity–and yet its origins had yet to be documented or verified.

From the flurry of excitement surrounding her discovery, to the raging disputes over her authenticity, to the politics and personalities that have given rise to her mystique, Gregory Curtis has given us a riveting look at the embattled legacy of a beloved icon and a remarkable tribute to one of the world’s great works of art.




About the Author

Gregory Curtis was editor of Texas Monthly from 1981 until 2000. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Fortune, Time, and Rolling Stone, among other places. A graduate of Rice University and San Francisco State College, he currently lives in Austin with his wife and four children.




Praise For Disarmed

“Fresh, full of adventure, conflict, and a sense of discovery.” –The Baltimore Sun

“Masterful. . . . Entertaining. . . . Interesting and anecdote-filled. . . . A meaningful contribution to the legend of the stony seductress.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Lively and engaging. . . . Readable and enlightening. . . . Filled with striking and compelling characters.” –The Dallas Morning News

“Absorbing. . . . Enormously entertaining. . . . Curtis is a writer of generous wit, who packs his book with delicious portraits of the scholars, writers, artists and politicians who contributed to the mythologizing of the Venus de Milo.” –San Jose Mercury News

“Fascinating. . . . Reads like a mystery.” –The Washington Post Book World

“Part thriller, part art history, part rumination on the Greeks. . . . Curtis writes faster and better than just about any academic art historian.” –Newsweek

“Absorbing. . . . Enormously entertaining. . . . Curtis is a writer of generous wit, who packs his book with delicious portraits of the scholars, writers, artists and politicians who contributed to the mythologizing of the Venus de Milo.” –San Jose Mercury News

“An engaging and engrossing book. It makes one want to head right off to Paris, to that long gallery in the Louvre, and have a look again.” –Larry McMurtry

“Curtis does a solid job of presenting art history as narrative non-fiction, moving the statue swiftly across many epochs and giving a taste of what it meant to each.” –Chicago Tribune

“Fascinating, scholarly, surprising, and extremely entertaining.” –Jan Morris

“Gripping. . . . [Curtis] disassembles each argument with the cranky urgency of a contemporary critic. And when he’s cleared the marble dust he takes his own crack at telling Venus’s story.” –Forbes FYI

“A memorable, fascinating, thrilling book. In vivid prose based on research of great integrity, he makes us see new depths beneath the statue’s beauty. He has created a work that will endure in your memory like the statue itself.” –Robert A. Caro

“In this colorful history of the statue and the riddles surrounding her, Curtis breathes warm life into this icon of female inscrutability.” –Men’s Journal

“I found Disarmed completely compelling. After a while, I started to think that the book would wind up getting, via a single sculpture, to everything–and it very nearly does: art, sex, politics, religion. It’s even, for me, in an oblique way, about war and “disarmament.” What a subtle, clever, nuanced work.” –David Shields

“Riveting. . . . Brisk and brilliant. . . . Highly readable, well-researched and even passionate. . . . Lush, learned, and surprisingly entertaining. . . . A stunning debut.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Disarmed will be a startling book for readers expecting a dutiful art history lesson about a statue. It is instead a fiery and eccentric story, in whose pages all sorts of unforgettable characters fight for possession not just of the Venus de Milo herself, but of the tranquil, eternal, maddeningly elusive ideal of human perfection she represents.” –Stephen Harrigan

“Sparkling. . . . Deliciously convoluted. . . . Curtis . . . renews our appreciation for a masterpiece as beautiful as it is mysterious.” –Booklist

“A fascinating tale admirably told.” –Rosamond Bernier

“Lively and engaging. . . . Very readable and enlightening. . . . Curtis’s story is filled with . . . striking and compelling characters.” –The Trenton Times

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