Luchino Visconti: The Flames of Passion by Laurence Schifano
Winner of the French Academy's prize for biography in 1988, this book describes the passionate life of the great opera, theatre and film director. He was both a reactionary and a rebel, a Catholic and an iconoclast, a homosexual Don Juan and friend of a galaxy of international figures. Born in 1906 in a palace in Milan and son of a flamboyant duke and an heiress, Visconti abandoned the life of an aristocratic dilettante after the triumph of fascism in Europe and joined the communist party underground. He was later arrested and imprisoned. He provoked scandal wherever he went and would invite protest, controversy and official censorship until he died in 1976.