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A fresh, innovative biography of the twentieth century’s most iconic filmmaker.
In The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock, Edward White explores the Hitchcock phenomenon—what defines it, how it was invented, what it reveals about the man at its core, and how its legacy continues to shape our cultural world.
The book’s twelve chapters illuminate different aspects of Hitchcock’s life and work: “The Boy Who Couldn’t Grow Up”; “The Murderer”; “The Auteur”; “The Womanizer”; “The Fat Man”; “The Dandy”; “The Family Man”; “The Voyeur”; “The Entertainer”; “The Pioneer”; “The Londoner”; “The Man of God.” Each of these angles reveals something fundamental about the man he was and the mythological creature he has become, presenting not just the life Hitchcock lived but also the various versions of himself that he projected, and those projected on his behalf.
From Hitchcock’s early work in England to his most celebrated films, White astutely analyzes Hitchcock’s oeuvre and provides new interpretations. He also delves into Hitchcock’s ideas about gender; his complicated relationships with “his women”—not only Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren but also his female audiences—as well as leading men such as Cary Grant, and writes movingly of Hitchcock’s devotion to his wife and lifelong companion, Alma, who made vital contributions to numerous classic Hitchcock films, and burnished his mythology. And White is trenchant in his assessment of the Hitchcock persona, so carefully created that Hitchcock became not only a figurehead for his own industry but nothing less than a cultural icon.
Ultimately, White’s portrayal illuminates a vital truth: Hitchcock was more than a Hollywood titan; he was the definitive modern artist, and his significance reaches far beyond the confines of cinema.
About the Author:
Edward White is the author of The Tastemaker: Carl Van Vechten and the Birth of Modern America and has written for publications including the Paris Review.
"By approaching the life and career of Alfred Hitchcock from a dozen distinct and revealing vantage points, Edward White presents a portrait that is highly nuanced, brimming with critical insights, and, like his subject, thoroughly entertaining." - Noah Isenberg, author of We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Movie
"Edward White’s The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock is a pinata of literary pleasures. Learned and graceful, thoughtful and provocative, White cracks the Hitchcock code with deft analysis and fine writing. It’s a high-stepping performance full of humor and depth. Walking a tightrope between criticism and biography, White places both the man and his myth in the cultural landscape of his times. In the process, he returns us to the films with a much more informed eye. A book to keep and to return to." - John Lahr, author of Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh