Cecil Jenkins' historical novel gives readers an insight into legendary painter Pablo Picasso's relationship with his lover Dora Maar... the most significant of both of their careers. "Studies of Picasso have often underplayed the important role of the beautiful and intelligent photographer and painter Dora Maar, the only woman to have understood and stood up to him,"â Cecil claims. Dora Versus Picasso fictionalises the life of this successful young Surrealist painter and photographer. Dora is said to be a `tough cookie' - as she needs to be, in a society where women have no vote and an art world where female artists can survive only as the nude model/mistress or muse of a male painter. Dora is initially wary of the advances of the older Picasso, who is reputed to be hard on women. He not only has a wife and son, but also a young mistress that he has kept hidden for many years. But as Dora begins to understand the trauma and inner loneliness underlying his painting and his cynicism, she comes to love Picasso. She influences him politically and they work closely together on the famous mural Guernica. But, while he admires and needs her, she has to stand up to his self-destructive need to test her...â As the strains of war increase, their relationship becomes increasingly fraught. Can she emerge from their shattered relationship intact? "I have developed a great sympathy for Dora, whose importance to Picasso has not been sufficiently recognized, and who exemplifies the difficult position of women even within the would-be liberated Surrealist movement," says Cecil, of his inspiration for the novel.
Cecil Jenkins is an Ulsterman who studied at Trinity College Dublin, then at the prestigious Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, where he lived for six years. He has taught modern French literature and ideas at the universities of Exeter and Sussex - where he also served a term as Dean of European Studies. In addition to his books on French writers and a Brief History of France, Cecil has written a prize-winning crime novel, 2 stage plays and 2 plays for Radio 3. He is married and lives in London.