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RIEFENSTAHL, Leni.

Schönheit im Olympischen Kampf.

Berlin: Im Deutschen Verlag, 1937 Stock Code: 141073
£3,750.00
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The Berlin Olympics

First edition, first printing, an exceptional copy retaining the rare glassine and card slipcase. This photobook was produced alongside Olympia, Riefenstahl's landmark documentary of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Olympia was immediately recognised as truly innovative, experimenting with cutting-edge shooting and editing techniques, winning the Best Foreign Film in Venice following its premiere in 1938. The majority of the images featured in this volume are taken from the film, but the concluding section adds 31 behind-the-scenes production photos.

Riefenstahl's legacy has been bitterly contested since the Second World War. Some (including Riefenstahl herself) have attempted to portray her as an independent artist, with a purely aesthetic mission, having little interest in the Nazi programme. It has been argued that her film, in fact, offended the sensibilities of senior Nazis and that Goebbels tried to have it destroyed. However, the consensus has been less forgiving. Susan Sontag, in her essay "Fascinating Fascism", attacked these attempts to sanitize Riefenstahl's reputation, asserting that Olympia was "commissioned and entirely financed by the Nazi government... and facilitated by Goebbels's ministry at every stage of the shooting". However, both the film and book inevitably included images of African-American quadruple gold medallist Jesse Owens, an electrifying refutation Nazi claims to Aryan athletic superiority.

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Description

Quarto. Original red cloth, spine and front cover lettered in gilt, Olympic rings to front cover in gilt. With the dust jacket, glassine, and original card slipcase (stamped "Riefenstahl") for mailing.

Illustrations

Illustrated throughout with photographic plates, mostly full page.

Condition

Book in fine condition, jacket in near-fine condition with tiny chips and rubbing at extremities else clean and fresh, glassine with chips yet all holding and still in good condition, slipcase in very good condition with small chip at front entry and very marginal split along joints; overall, a very desirable copy.

Bibliography

Roth 101, p. 96.

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