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My Double Life

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  85 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
My Double Life is the autobiography of the French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who was internationally famed during her lifetime and afterwards as one of the classical theater's all-time greatest stars. Bernhardt's memoirs are composed with a novelist's (or actress's) sense of artistry and suspense that leaves no doubt of the charisma for which she was famed in her "double lif ...more
Hardcover, 345 pages
Published February 11th 1999 by State University of New York Press (first published 1907)
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After finding out that Sarah (probably?) was a routine imbiber of cocaine-containing drinks (normal for that day & age, given that people didn't realize the dangers) I'm starting to think that she was not only a bit of a coke-head, but also probably one of the most selfish and self involved people. So I'm not finishing this one. But it was mildly interesting, if only to be amazed at the bad behavior that was so tolerated by her family. Exploits like flying at her little sister and attempting ...more
Jessica Barkl
Aug 04, 2013 Jessica Barkl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was an instructor at Walla Walla Community College books that were in the arts section were being discarded by the library. They would put them on a cart outside the library and many of my students would grab them and give them to me, thinking I would like them. I kept them, but I haven't read many of them, yet. I started on one, when I needed a break from Thomas More's UTOPIA (I'm almost done with it, was too much at the end of the day to read, sometimes, and an autobiography so ...more
Del de la Mare
I decided to read this book after visiting the Sarah Bernhardt museum on Belle-Ile en Mer.

It deals with Sarah's life from her early days as a youngster, living in convents, through her burgeoning acting career, and concluding with her successful tours of England and America.

The book gives a fascinating insight into the life of a middle/upper class actress. I enjoyed reading of the ups and downs of what must have been quite a tumultuous life. One tale I found amusing was from when she visited Chi
Paulo O'Brien
Having recently read "Unsuspecting Souls", a philosophical history of the 19th century, I was intrigued by a reference there to Sarah Bernhard, the most famous stage actress of the time, and her autobiography. So, just for fun, I downloaded it to my Kindle app on my iPhone for those times in a waiting room, on a subway, etc. where I wouldn't have my larger Kindle device.

I would not call it a great book, but it is a fascinating look into a life of glamour and fame in a century gone by. For instan
Celia Montgomery
I need to read an authoritative biography of Ms. Bernhardt before I can completely review this book. According to Wikipedia, Sarah was a notorious embellisher of the truth. She leaves out critical facts in her memoir (for instance: the identity of the father of her child). However, the stories that are left are all fascinating. Ms. Bernhard spent her childhood in a French convent and her teen years with the Comedie Francaise. Her descriptions of both these institutions are gossipy, intelligent a ...more
A well-translated, touching, and frequently bombastic autobiography that I couldn't put down. Sarah Bernhardt self-aggrandizes with the kind of panache that one would expect from the great stage actress, but always does so with a sense of self-parody and never at the expense of others.

As an actress, I found myself identifying with Sarah a lot throughout the book, particularly in her formative years. I particularly found interesting her equation of religion with theatre, and how one started where
I originally bought this book because I thought Sarah Bernhardt must have been a spy or some other thing that caused her to live a double life. Nope. This is just a memoir of an actress. Granted, she lived through a war and that part was really interesting. I also thought her personality was interesting to read about. Now I know where all of those prima donna actress stereotypes came from. It was also interesting to see the distinction people made back then between the classes, and other things ...more
Dec 23, 2007 Katy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, history
While La Bernhardt's inability to stick to the truth is legendery, these memoirs are a fascinating look into a world long gone - and a Paris that continues to fascinate generation after generation. There are more...literal...biographies available, but The Divine Sarah's imagination and over-the-top descriptions make this a valuable and entertaining read.
Andre Satie
Apr 09, 2014 Andre Satie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed it. The writing is good, the story interesting; I've read, though, that she had a tendency to exaggerate, amplify, and even lie, ao I took it with a grain of salt. She never mentions that she never knew who her father was, her mother was a courtesan, and she was as well. She speaks of wanting only to be a nun, and being forced to the stage by the family's lack of funds.
Samantha Glasser
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Nov 05, 2012 Lea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really fun read, she definitely had no qualms about exaggerating, stretching the truth or just skipping over pertinent facts but that somehow made the whole thing even more enjoyable.
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Odd words. And general discussion. 1 1 Nov 29, 2013 01:42AM  
Sarah Bernhardt (October 22, 1844 – March 26, 1923) was a legendary French stage and early film actress, and has been referred to as "the most famous actress the world has ever known". Bernhardt made her fame on the stages of Europe in the 1870s, and was soon in demand in Europe and the Americas. She developed a reputation as a serious dramatic actress, earning the nickname "The Divine Sarah."

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“Life is short, even for those who live a long time, and we must live for the few who know and appreciate us, who judge and absolve us, and for whom we have the same affection and indulgence. The rest I look upon as a mere crowd, lively or sad, loyal or corrupt, from whom there is nothing to be expected but fleeting emotions, either pleasant or unpleasant, which leave no trace behind them. We ought to hate very rarely, as it is too fatiguing; remain indifferent to a great deal, forgive often and never forget.” 0 likes
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