The enigmatic aura that surrounds Empress "Sisi" fascinates all who learn of her.
Dec 30, 2009
Despite her modest role in the history of Austro-Hungarian politics, Empress Elisabeth (known as "Sisi") was a legend even in her own time. Renewed interest in the twentieth century has elevated her to iconic status and the obvious adulation that is accorded to her memory by present day Austrians and Hungarians is surely a close rival to the way that the United Kingdom treats the memory of their late beloved Princess Diana.
"Empress Elisabeth of Austria" is certainly not a complete biography with the type of scholarly analysis of her place in the history of 19th century Austria that would interest serious followers of the subject. But it obviously isn't intended to be. The book is clearly offered as a souvenir of a trip to Vienna and a memento of a tour of Schönbrunn Palace and the imperial Hapsburg apartments.
Wonderfully illustrated, it very quickly tells the tragic story of the complex, and all too brief life of this most unusual empress - her almost pathological abhorrence of public appearances; her exaggerated attention to her own beauty oddly juxtaposed beside an adamant refusal to conform to any of the other demands made of her in her role as a female; her obsessive dieting which most now believe was anorexia; her romantic, melancholy versifying; her passion for literature and foreign languages; her astonishing skill as an accomplished rider; her incessant traveling and, of course, her assassination in Geneva in 1898.
Enjoyable and still informative despite its light approach, "Empress Elisabeth of Austria" can be completed in little more than a single entertaining hour. Highly recommended.
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