Books: Mother's Boy

WHISTLER: A BIOGRAPHY

by STANLEY WEINTRAUB

498 pages. Weybright & Talley. $12.50.

"Why are you so unpleasant?" a female admirer once asked James McNeill Whistler. "My dear, I will tell you a secret," the cocky 5-ft. 4-in. American painter replied. "Early in life I made the discovery that if one is delightful, one has to thrust the world away to keep from being bored to death."

There was rarely any danger of boredom in Whistler's vicinity. He spent most of his 69 years as an expatriate in England and France working as hard on his...

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