Look for beauty in a distraught world

Rudolph Valentino's face caused suicides. Some female votaries who had despaired of possessing the actor gave themselves to death. They refused to live in a less handsome world, consigned to the companionship of lesser Valentinos.

The French philosopher Roland Barthes, who notes this phenomenon in his book, Mythologies, comments also on Greta Garbo's features.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 09, 2020, with the headline 'Look for beauty in a distraught world'. Print Edition | Subscribe