Such ugliness, though, never rears its head in Vanished Splendors. Through some combination of great talent and good fortune, Balthus devoted a long life not to curbing but to cultivating his eccentricities, and he evidently managed to do so up till the very end. He romanticizes even his stubbornness, calling himself childlike. Make that childish.
Vanished Splendors by Balthus with Alain Vircondelet; Ecco Press. Hardcover, 272 pages, $30.