George, Constant and Kit
A portrayal of three generations destroyed by drinks, drugs and turbulent bohemian life.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
An extraordinary family biography by one of England's leading poets (Dangerous Play): the tragic story of three generations of Lamberts, prime movers in 20th-century English bohemia. George Lambert established himself as one of England's - and then Australia's - leading painters early in this century. His composer son Constant pioneered the infusion of jazz into dance and, in the 30's and 40's, was the driving spirit of England's Royal Ballet. Constant's son Kit, manager of the rock 'n' roll band The Who, founded Britain's first independent record label and epitomized the extravagant life style of the rock entrepreneur. A remarkable record of accomplishment; but, as Motion brings out in his sensitive study, for the Lamberts the drive to excel also carried a drive to self-destruct. George, after the shattering of his marriage, died of heart failure at 57; Constant of diabetes complicated by alcoholism at 45; Kit of heroin addiction at 46. This filial descent into ever-greater decadence takes on, through Motion's brooding, filigreed prose, the inevitability of fate: for Motion, the sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons. Woven within this nco-Gothic tale is a splendid history and evocation of British avant-garde circles during this century: of the panoply of artists, eccentrics, and iconoclasts (including Anthony Powell, Wyndham Lewis, Pete Townshend, Mick Jagger, and others) who clustered around the Lamberts; and of that impulse to excess that devolved from a nearly innocent fin-de-siecle dandyism (manifested in George's pin-neat dressing and manners), through the wine-filled sensibility of Constant's Fitz-rovian era, to the drugged-out craziness of the swinging London that finally overpowered Kit. A biographical tour de force, possessing both surface elegance and profundity of insight. (Kirkus Reviews)