The diary of Vaslav Nijinsky

by Vaslaw Nijinsky

Other authorsRomola de Pulszky Nijinsky (Editor)
Paperback, 1936




Berkeley, University of California Press, 1968 [c1936]


In December 1917, Vaslav Nijinsky, the most famous male dancer in the Western world, moved into a Swiss villa with his wife & three-year-old daughter & began to go mad. This diary, which he kept in four notebooks over six weeks, is the only sustained, on-the-spot written account we have by a major artist of the experience of entering psychosis. A prodigy from his youth in Russian, Nijinsky came to international fame as a principal dancer in Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. After a falling-out between the two great men - who had lived openly as lovers for some time - he struggled to build a career on his own. When psychosis struck, he began to imagine himself as married to God, indeed as God, signing his entries "God Nijinksy." Although he lived another thirty years, he never regained his sanity. Already a classic in its earlier, bowdlerized edition, the diary now appears uncut for the first time in English, together with its previously unavailable fourth notebook. It is Nijinsky's confession & his prophecy. At the same time, it reads like a novel, portraying the terror in the Nijinsky household as the dancer plunged into madness. In her Introduction, a noted dancer explains the context of the diary & its significance in the history of modernism.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member le.vert.galant
This extremely moving diary was written as Nijinsky struggled with symptoms of schizophrenia in the spring of 1919. It's a painfully honest book. Throughout the text Nijinsky struggles with the horrors of the First World War, his acrimonious relationship with his ex-lover Diaghilev [who had spitefully fired him from Ballets Russes after Nijinsky married a Hungarian woman on a South American tour], his revulsion at eating meat, his deteriorating marriage, and the delusions that increasingly clouded his thoughts. It's heartbreaking for the reader to feel Nijinsky's mind fragmenting even as he proclaims his love for humanity and desire to atone for past failings. At the same time, there are passages of piercing lucidity where he discusses his career, dance, art, and his feelings about life and death. A complex and unforgettable work.… (more)


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