June 20, 1894 [Sandow]


The strong man poses against a black background, his pale skin bulging with ropy muscles. It was, if I may hazard the expression, consumed by flesh. Nothing else matters here but Sandow sliding serenely from one pose to the next; his face, also watching, turned down to his body; his gestures ambiguous: Is he admitting defeat here as his arms stretch downward? Does he show an almost girlish charm as he spins to present his back to us? And as he turns his face away, is he smiling while his back ripples and legs extend?

I wish Sandow had marveled us with feats of strength, bending an iron bar or lifting a great weight. Alone and all but naked, he seemed not merely Narcissus but somehow Achilles at the end, his strength and weakness combining to draw us to him, displaying in some kind of defeat everything about him.

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