Alma Mahler-Werfel was one of the most fascinating and ambivalent of twentieth-century women. Her book Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters (1940) includes 159 of Mahler's letters, yet only 37 of these were published in their original, unedited form. Alma's omissions, abridgements and alterations were all part of the legend, and reveal that it was her intention to present herself in as flattering a light as possible.
This new edition restores the original texts, and includes a further 188 letters as well as other, hitherto unpublished documents. The letters are supplemented by commentaries, which provide background information about the people and events mentioned in them, and help place the letters in their cultural and historical context. These documents depict a close and sometimes explosive relationship between two people of widely differing background, character and temperament. The Mahler that emerges from these authentic, unabridged sources is warmer and more touchingly human than the figure as presented by Alma in her expurgated selection of Memories and Letters.
'Are Collected Letters a superior form of biography? When as numerous and meticulously edited as these of Gustav Mahler, when they provide a time capsule ride back to the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the answer must be yes... This remarkable book is unputdownable, even for a non-Mahlerite'. Literary Review 'A vivid and telling portrayal of Mahler's personality in his voice.' Times Literary Supplement 'The letters are linked by a commentary that makes the volume both an easy and gripping read... There is passion in this book to scald the hand.' Sunday Times