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Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  130 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
The poet and visual artist Mina Loy (1882-1966) has long had an underground reputation as an exemplary avant-gardist. Born in London of mixed Jewish and English parentage, and a restless and much photographed beauty, she moved in the pivotal circles of international modernism, where her friends and lovers included Gertrude Stein, Marinetti, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, ...more
Paperback, 503 pages
Published October 14th 1997 by University of California Press (first published July 1st 1996)
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Aug 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Loy's well on her way to rejoining the Modernist Hall of Fame, and Carolyn Burke deserves credit for stoking the fires with this full-scale biography, the first (but I hope not the last) word on Loy's life and achievement. Loy enjoyed a view from the center during the revolution in modern art c. 1905-1940, and her list of friends, lovers and acquaintances reads like a 20th-century Who's Who: F.T. Marinetti, Arthur Cravan, Gertrude Stein, Marcel Duchamp, James Joyce, Peggy Guggenheim, Constantine ...more
Heather June Gibbons
Jul 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, beautiful, tragic, talented, enigmatic, a little batty in the end: meet Mina Loy the Modernista. A bad mother, but an enviable mover and shaker who meets and beguiles everyone from Futurists to Red Wheelbarrowists. More than a muse, though, she actually works, making not just innovative poems and manifestoes but lamps, dresses, collages. In terms of defining artistic production and trouncing the high/low binary, Mina is more Po-Mo than Mo. Way ahead of her time and adventurous enoug ...more
Andrea Riley
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Burke focuses on Loy's life as special and interesting but it's mostly through Loy's beauty.
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
A brilliant individual who definitely marched to the beat of her own drummer, Mina Loy was none the less unable to get her life together in ways which, oddly enough, I can relate to. Her life was long but she ended up broke and more than a little crazy. Along the way, however, she was involved with a fascinating array of characters, many well-known and artistically influential. This amazingly in-depth bio is extremely well-researched, compassionate yet non-judgemental, and also features some ast ...more
Nov 06, 2012 rated it liked it
It is fascinating to see the modern period through the eyes of a minor artist: it corrects the hagiographies beautifully. The vanguard with their absurd ideas about achieving higher consciousness in their privileged self-regarding world could not be better lampooned in a direct satire! Nonetheless Mina Loy's honest investigations of her own sexuality make powerful reading when they appear in the text of this biography and give me an appetite to investigate her writing more.
Kevin O'Sullivan
chronicle of an under-appreciated figure in the literary and artistic avant-garde who traversed the last century hitting all the important stops along the way --futurist florence, dadaist new york, interwar paris-- leaving behind important textual traces of a life lived beyond the limits of the norm; occult, erotic, indecipherable...
Nov 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Very enjoyable and informative, although much more concentrated on social doings than on the work. However this book should lead to more serious engagement with a wonderful writer, and hopefully to the unearthing of her many lost visual works.
May 24, 2007 marked it as to-read
I've been reading this on and off for a while. I love Mina Loy.
Jan 25, 2011 marked it as to-read
Mentioned in The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin.
Jay Wood
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A huge achievement.
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Carolyn Burke was born in Sydney, spent many years in Paris, and now lives in Santa Cruz, California. She graduated from Swarthmore College and earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from Columbia University. She is a member of PEN and the Authors Guild. A practitioner of Zen Buddhism, she took the precepts with Tenshin Reb Anderson in 2010.

Her latest book, No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf, was pu
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