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Lillian Gish


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About the Author

Charles Affron is Professor of French at New York University. He is the author of Sets in Motion, Cinema and Sentiment, Divine Garbo, and Star Acting: Gish, Garbo, Davis. He lives in New York City.


"To the very end, she did her part in raising awareness about the endangered legacy of silent film. But her insistence on going to any means to guard and sugarcoat Griffith's legacy distorts the reality of the silent film era. The truth, plain and simple, would serve a greater purpose today in bolstering awareness of the great work done by silent film artists. With this book, Affron takes a step in that direction by demystifying the actress and the world in which she worked."-Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times; "Gish, born in 1893, lived for 99 years. She spent the first quarter of a century becoming a legend and the last three-quarters of it acting as shaper and custodian of that legend.... Though most of Gish's story is known, we've never had it told with such balance and completeness. Affron completes the picture by restoring details Gish resolutely omitted."-Jay Carr, Boston Globe; "Well written, ambitious and intelligent, this biography is an essential addition to the work on Gish and on American film and theater."-Publishers Weekly; "Affron unearths the less edifying facts airbrushed out of his subject's memories yet retains his respect for her pioneering artistry. Gish emerges here as a stronger, savvier woman than we have met in previous accounts."-Wendy Smith, Variety; "[Affron] politely, consistently refutes Gish's line, remaining unfailingly generous to his subject's art and indomitability, all the while fastidiously and expertly devastating the fairy tale in which she wrapped herself. If we are ever to rescue silent film from its status as a dwindling cult's enthusiasm and restore it as a vital part of our cultural heritage, we need more work of this balanced and balancing kind."-Richard Schickel, New York Times Book Review; "[A] deeply honest book.... Granted unprecedented access to Gish's private letters and journals, [Affron] has used his privilege well. Stripping away Gish's own layers of selective memory and self-invention, and eclipsing earlier 'authorized' biographies, he challenges many assumptions.... A balanced and detailed portrait."-Jeanine Basinger, Washington Post

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