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16 December 1993
French Lessons: A Memoir 
by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 221 pp., £15.95, September 1993, 0 226 42418 9
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... can do things for us, then; they are not the blandly practical extensions to our lives they may seem to be. They can be among the more disturbing means by which we create psychic space for ourselves. AliceKaplan cites the case of Anna O., the legendary patient, first of Breuer and then of Freud, whose inhibitions were of such a kind that she chose to speak to her doctors in English and not her native ...

Someone like Maman

Elisabeth Ladenson: Proust’s mother

8 May 2008
Madame Proust: A Biography 
by Evelyne Bloch-Dano, translated by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 310 pp., £16, October 2007, 978 0 226 05642 5
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... the end, since Madame Proust seems to be meant not so much as a contribution to Proust studies as to cultural history, and as such it is valuable. A great asset of this version is the translation by AliceKaplan, who curbs some of the author’s wilder flights of fancy, and also provides some references that were missing or incomplete in the original edition. Ruskin should have been so lucky ...

Too Much Gide

Douglas Johnson: French writers (1940-53)

15 November 2001
La Guerre des écrivains 1940-53 
by Gisèle Sapiro.
Fayard, 807 pp., frs 220, September 1999, 2 213 60211 5
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Correspondance: Marcel Arland – Jean Paulhan 1936-45 
edited by Jean-Jacques Didier.
Gallimard, 397 pp., frs 140, March 2000, 2 07 075789 7
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Dialogue des ‘vaincus’: Prison de Clairvaux, janvier-décembre 1950 
by Lucien Rebatet and Pierre-Antoine Cousteau, edited by Robert Belot.
Berg, 285 pp., frs 120, March 2000, 2 911289 22 6
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The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach 
by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 320 pp., £9.50, December 2000, 0 226 42415 4
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... hostage. He spent some months in various prisons, writing and translating Greek verse and Shakespeare. He was then briefly tried, and executed in February 1945. He was 35. In her excellent book, AliceKaplan concentrates on the proceedings at the trial – a legitimate decision since at the Liberation there was more discussion about what in principle should be done with collaborators than about ...

It’s she, it’s she, it’s she

Joanna Biggs: Americans in Paris

2 August 2012
Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis 
by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 289 pp., £17, May 2012, 978 0 226 42438 5
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As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Diaries 1964-80 
by Susan Sontag.
Hamish Hamilton, 544 pp., £18.99, April 2012, 978 0 241 14517 3
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... standard of living, or to make men stare: ‘The truth is that the way European women dress is much less servile.’ If being a young woman in postwar America was suffocating, why not try Paris? AliceKaplan’s Dreaming in French tells the story of three college girls – Jacqueline Bouvier, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis – who did. Kaplan, who wrote about her own year abroad in the memoir ...

The Castaway

Jeremy Harding: Algeria’s Camus

4 December 2014
Algerian Chronicles 
by Albert Camus, edited by Alice Kaplan, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 224 pp., £11.95, November 2014, 978 0 674 41675 8
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Camus brûlant 
by Benjamin Stora and Jean-Baptiste Péretié.
Stock, 109 pp., €12.50, September 2013, 978 2 234 07482 8
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Meursault, contre-enquête 
by Kamel Daoud.
Actes Sud, 155 pp., €19, May 2014, 978 2 330 03372 9
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... in 1958. They appear here in English for the first time. Camus was rightly proud of his work for Alger républicain. The reports he chose from the end of the 1930s are models of advocacy journalism. AliceKaplan has appended a powerful sketch from the same period about a convict transport ship. From 1940 onwards Camus was effectively ‘exiled’ from Algeria, having left for metropolitan France and ...

All I Did Was Marry Him

Elaine Showalter: Laura Bush’s Other Life

6 November 2008
American Wife 
by Curtis Sittenfeld.
Doubleday, 558 pp., £11.99, October 2008, 978 0 385 61674 4
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... the First Lady’s lack of pretension and disdain for fashion, and to a New York Times article in October 2002 that quoted respectful comments by American writers and historians, including Justin Kaplan and David Levering Lewis, who had participated in literary gatherings Mrs Bush initiated at the White House. Sittenfeld identified strongly with the portrayal of Laura Bush as a ‘voracious reader ...

I can’t, I can’t

Anne Diebel: Edel v. the Rest

21 November 2013
Monopolising the Master: Henry James and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship 
by Michael Anesko.
Stanford, 280 pp., £30.50, March 2012, 978 0 8047 6932 7
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... most interesting discoveries concern the James family in the years just before and after Henry’s death, long before Edel came on the scene. Soon after William’s death in 1910, his wife, Alice, and their children clashed with Henry over his plan to write a family memoir that drew on William’s correspondence. When Henry, with good intentions but uncontrollable editorial impulses, emended ...


Tony Tanner

22 April 1993
The Correspondence of William James. Vol. I: William and Henry 1861-1884 
edited by Ignas Skrupskelis and Elizabeth Berkeley.
Virginia, 477 pp., £39.95, January 1993, 0 8139 1338 1
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Henry James: The Imagination of Genius 
by Fred Kaplan.
Hodder, 620 pp., £25, November 1992, 9780340555538
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... another, and it comes as no surprise to learn that Dido, the family dog, has, out of sympathy and solidarity one supposes, contracted ‘colliquative diarrhoea’. The last letter in the book records Alice as ‘laid up with catarrh of the bowels’.) For their various ailments it would seem they would try anything – the sitzbath, injections by ‘douche rectale’, ‘blistering’, antibilious ...

No Accident

Zachary Leader: Gore Vidal’s Golden Age

21 June 2001
The Golden Age: A Novel 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 467 pp., £17.99, October 2000, 0 316 85409 3
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... periods they cover, are Burr (1973), Lincoln (1984), 1876 (1976, of course), Empire (1987), Hollywood (1989), Washington, DC (1967) and now The Golden Age. According to Vidal’s biographer, Fred Kaplan, it was while at work on Lincoln, in the early 1980s, that Vidal conceived of the series in its totality (though there were earlier links, 1876 being a sequel to Burr, and both introducing characters ...

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