Books: Scorpions & Butterflies

THE WORLD OF JAMES McNEILL WHISTLER (255 pp.)—Horace Gregory—Nelson ($5).

He affected a laugh so bloodcurdling that Actor Henry Irving imitated it for dramatic moments in Shakespeare's plays. He often signed his paintings with a butterfly armed with a scorpionlike tail. He inspired much of Trilby's demonic master villain, Svengali. His mistress-of-the-hour strutted nudely past his devout Episcopalian mother, neither one guessing that posterity would make James Abbott McNeill Whistler's mother the most renowned artist's model of all time.

"Few men are life-size," Whistler once said—and fewer still combine the gall, gallantry and genius with which Whistler fashioned a larger-than-life legend. Poet and...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!