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Little Dancer Aged Fourteen


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This absorbing, heartfelt work tells the story of the real dancer behind Degas's now-iconic sculpture, and the struggles of late nineteenth-century bohemian life of Paris.

About the Author

Camille Laurens is an award-winning French novelist and essayist. She received the Prix Femina, one of France's most prestigious literary prizes, in 2000 for Dans ces bras-l , which was published in the United States as In His Arms in 2004. Her second novel to appear in English, Who You Think I Am (Other Press, 2017), is the basis for a forthcoming film starring Juliette Binoche. Laurens lives in Paris.

Willard Wood is the winner of the 2002 Lewis Galanti re Award for Literary Translation and a 2000 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Translation. He lives in Connecticut.


"A fascinating hybrid...of art history and art appreciation, a personal narrative that reads like a novel...quixotic, but also magical." --The New Yorker

"[Laurens's] curiosity is contagious, and after reading this elegant pas de deux between the author and her elusive subject, you will surely look at Degas's celebrated tutu-clad ballerina with fresh eyes...moving...Laurens's artful achievement is to make us see the person behind Degas's famous sculpture." --NPR "Fascinating...part historical chronicle, part artfully discursive personal response and part imaginative close reading of the sculpture's past and present...full of thought-provoking insights and revelations." --Washington Post "[A] short, erudite investigation into the story behind Degas's masterpiece...[Laurens] provides a glimpse into the art world of 19th-century Paris." --Wall Street Journal

"Compelling...[Laurens] animates this fascinating book by drawing on her capacious imagination, her own love of ballet, and her curiosity about the fate of Degas's model." --National Book Review "The essence of late nineteenth-century art: Famous man paints nameless woman, her body and image becoming a mantle upon which his notoriety hangs. Who were these women? Typically, no one cares. So it's refreshing to see an author like Camille Laurens who does." --Huffington Post

"[Laurens] spins a compelling and tragic tale of poverty, power, and the arts that raises questions about the artist's responsibility to his subject." --Booklist (starred review) "Well-researched...intriguing...Laurens's fascination with her subject brings this universally recognized piece of art to life." --Library Journal "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen illuminates a slice of art history with ravishing acuity...a fascinating tour through the past." --Foreword Reviews "Laurens vividly sketches out a history of the abuses of child labor in Paris in the 1880s...insightful." --Kirkus Reviews "A disturbing and enigmatic story...[Laurens's] book is a meditation on an artist and his forgotten model, forever linked to him through one creation." --Columbus Dispatch "An evocative tribute to a model, a man, and a moment. Sensitive, human, and profound, this vivid recreation of the sights, sounds, and smells of the nineteenth-century art world is underpinned by solid research, and written in a style which is assured and decisive." --Catherine Hewitt, author of Renoir's Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon "[Laurens] is one hell of a writer. More than the facts, it's an era that she reconstructs, the harshness of which brings a lump to your throat." --Elle (France) "This fascinating book is...a mirror in which we see our conception of art and of beauty." --Le Magazine Litt raire "Camille Laurens [evokes], through the story of this model plucked from the gutter, a period in which art unsettled the hypocrisy of a society." --Le Figaro

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