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Re: new GG book

At 5:14 PM 4/28/97, Alun Severn wrote:

>What a depressing prospect: a life spent engaging the posthumous
>psychoanalysis of great musicians. In my view this tends to produce the
>worst of all possible worlds: crap psychology; bad writing; little interest
>in, or understanding of, the art produced.
>Of course, I could be doing the man a great injustice: maybe the book will
>be a masterpiece and I'll have to eat my words and buy it.
>But I don't think so.....

        Cheers Alun, you've read my mind! I go forth with great
determination to give this book a fair shot, not because I want to like it,
but because I want not to dislike it. As a matter of ethics I am all for
biographies, it's the psycho-biographies that make me uncomfortable. Too
subjective, too locker-room. People gossip all the time, it's natural and I
guess it can't be helped, but when books are written and published in this
vein I take issue. I'm not saying that Ostwald and Gould weren't friends,
but I've never read that Gould was a patient of Dr. Ostwald. If Gould *had*
actually been a patient then a whole new realm of ethics violations would
crop up, but assuming the relationship was purely friendly, then, to me it
would seem impossible to rule out the possibility that Gould never dropped
his public persona around Ostwald, and was always on-guard when speaking to
him. What Ostwald thought was a dear friendship could very well have been a
false front. GG did this sometimes, didn't he?
        Anyway, I certainly don't want to canonize Glenn Gould, but I want
to be fair. From the brief snippets I've read, it seems that in receiving
this book I am about to learn a whole world of information that, true or
not, is really none of my business. His life as a performer, his work,
these were things that Gould put forth in the press very freely. His
personal life, his psyche, these things he carefully tried to keep private.
I don't think the statute of limitations on privacy ever really runs out,
and the fact that GG is dead seems to make the writing of this book a bit
more nefarious. Sort of like, Well, he's dead now so let's get to the good
        If Ostwald had taped conversations of GG saying "Look Peter, I
don't think I can go on living like this... the solitude is driving me mad,
and yet my fears of humanity torment me every waking moment" blah blah
blah, then maybe he would have grounds for writing a book documenting the
effects of stardom on the psyche, but I don't think it ever really came to
        I'll see what he has to say, and I'll campaign later. This book may
be a gem, who can say?

With trepidation,


"I take a powder right after a concert because I have this kook contingent
who follow me from place to place, and some of them are really teetering on
the balance."

--Glenn Gould, Holiday 4/64