Madeleine Schwartz

Madeleine Schwartz is editor of the Dial. She lives in Paris.

I don’t know what it looks like: Brutalist Paris

Madeleine Schwartz, 14 December 2023

Few people​ visit Paris for its modern architecture. But away from the Haussmannian buildings lining the boulevards of the city centre, the less regulated banlieue was a zone of architectural experimentation in the 1960s and 1970s. The Choux de Créteil – Gérard Grandval’s ‘cabbages’ – rise beside the highway, each tower with curved balconies that...

Diary: Teaching in the Banlieue

Madeleine Schwartz, 17 November 2022

The students asked me if I was ‘tyrannical’, like one of the teachers I was assisting. ‘She will throw you out the window!’ one of them told me with satisfaction. Unlike the American classrooms I was used to, French education still places a high value on rote memory. Students sit in rows facing the teacher, who gives them a leçon, which they are expected to learn by heart. At the end of each class, they write down what they have learned.

Trial’s End

Madeleine Schwartz, 21 July 2022

A frenchassize court does not arrive at a verdict through proof or reason, but by something called ‘conviction intime’. On the last day of the trial for the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015, the presiding judge, Jean-Louis Périès, reminded the court that the law

does not require each of the judges and jurors … to give an account of the means by which...

Since September, I have been going to a specially built room in the Palais de Justice, a few hundred metres from Notre-Dame, or to a smaller room across the marble hall, where journalists follow the proceedings, tweet and produce their daily reports. The courtroom has a capacity of 550 and has often been full: most of the attendees are survivors of the attacks. It is built of wood, complete with inlays so that the statues personifying justice and eloquence can be seen. The discussions that take place inside are the result of five years of investigation. The work has been careful and painstaking. But the trial is being conducted in a France changed by the attacks, where questions of terrorism, religion and social coherence are often confused and debated with little regard for facts. In this room, on days that have slipped from descriptions of extreme violence to grandstanding, I have wondered if the court can set aside what is happening outside it. Can France judge terrorism when terrorism is transforming its political system?

No Such Thing as Women: Reproduction Anxiety

Madeleine Schwartz, 23 September 2021

It’​s hard not to read the title of Mieko Kawakami’s first novel, Breasts and Eggs, as some kind of provocation. I keep seeing them in front of me – a perverted breakfast, breasts over easy, with a side of ketchup. What are they doing there, those breasts and eggs?

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