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One Herring in a Shoal

John Sturrock: Raymond Queneau, 8 May 2003

Oeuvres complètes: Tome II: Romans I 
by Raymond Queneau, edited by Henri Godard.
Gallimard, 1760 pp., €68, April 2002, 2 07 011439 2
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... spelled out, deeply to resent his father and, just like another resentful provincial schoolboy, Henri Beyle, the future Stendhal, took shelter in mathematics, an escape-route into abstraction, where the appeal was always to reason, never to mere domestic precedence. His hostility towards his father supplies the propellant for his curious second ...

The First Protest

Stephen Frears, 24 May 2018

... day before I got married to the present editor of the LRB, the head of the French Cinémathèque, Henri Langlois, was sacked – by André Malraux, the novelist turned Gaullist minister of culture. A piece in the Guardian by their great Paris correspondent, Peter Lennon, described what happened next. There had been a demonstration outside the padlocked gates ...

Who does that for anyone?

Adam Shatz: Jean-Pierre Melville, 20 June 2019

Jean-Pierre Melville: Le Solitaire 
by Bertrand Teissier.
Fayard, 272 pp., €22, October 2017, 978 2 213 70573 6
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Jean-Pierre Melville, une vie 
by Antoine de Baecque.
Seuil, 244 pp., €32, October 2017, 978 2 02 137107 9
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... film with the Rothschilds’ money’, because he’d cast Stéphane, the daughter of Baron James-Henri de Rothschild.) On the last day of the shoot, Vercors’s wife returned home early and complained that the German officer had shown more respect for their house than the film crew had. ‘But Madame,’ Melville replied, ‘the German wasn’t making a ...

Traffaut’s Heroes

Richard Mayne, 4 September 1980

The Films in My Life 
by François Truffaut, translated by Leonard Mayhew.
Allen Lane, 358 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 7139 1322 3
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... protective about François Truffaut? No one else in the old New Wave brings out the parent in us. Godard we either hate or admire, a disturbing influence gone solitary. Rivette and Resnais remain austere masters, full of mystification. Rohmer makes beautiful reflective films behind glass. Malle and Chabrol can take care of themselves. Vadim had it coming to ...

The ashtrays worry me

Emilie Bickerton: Eric Rohmer, 19 March 2015

Eric Rohmer: Biographie 
by Antoine de Baecque and Noël Herpe.
Stock, 605 pp., €29, January 2014, 978 2 234 07561 0
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Friponnes de porcelaine 
by Eric Rohmer.
Stock, 304 pp., €20, January 2014, 978 2 234 07631 0
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... work has never been especially cool or iconic, yet more than François Truffaut’s or Jean-Luc Godard’s it divides audiences right down the middle. Those who like his films are often protective and passionate and have seen them all; those who don’t complain of boredom and pointlessness. The complaints are partly a result of the subject matter. Rohmer ...

These are intolerable

Richard Mayne: A Thousand Foucaults, 10 September 1992

Michel Foucault 
by Didier Eribon, translated by Betsy Wing.
Faber, 374 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 571 14474 8
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... odds. War had disrupted his schooling: at the age of 14, after a bad year in the Poitiers Lycée Henri IV, he had been moved to a Jesuit college, which he detested. His father had wanted him to be a doctor: but Foucault had been intent on the École Normale Supérieure, alma mater of Sartre, Aron and Merleau-Ponty, so he had enrolled for two more years at an ...

As If

Jonathan Romney: ‘Cahiers du cinéma’, 9 September 2010

A Short History of ‘Cahiers du cinéma’ 
by Emilie Bickerton.
Verso, 156 pp., £12.99, March 2010, 978 1 84467 232 5
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... critics – fervent acolytes of Paris’s ciné-clubs and the Cinémathèque Française run by Henri Langlois – were the group of five who, once they became film-makers themselves, came to be known as the Nouvelle Vague: François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol and Maurice Schérer, later ...

Tears in the Café Select

Christopher Prendergast, 9 March 1995

Paris Interzone: Richard Wright, Lolita, Boris Vian and Others on the Left Bank 1946-1960 
by James Campbell.
Secker, 305 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 436 20106 2
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Foreign Correspondent: Paris in the Sixties 
by Peter Lennon.
Picador, 220 pp., £16.99, April 1994, 0 330 31911 6
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The Good Ship Venus: The Erotic Voyage of the Olympia Press 
by John de St Jorre.
Hutchinson, 332 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 09 177874 3
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... of a wonderful evening at the Falstaff when the clientèle included Beckett, Sartre, Ionesco and Godard, all drinking at separate tables). Sartre in particular made Left Bank cafés famous, not only hanging out and writing in them but also writing of them as exemplary sites of Existentialist ontology – ‘The café is a fullness of being,’ he wrote in ...

Time and the Sea

Fredric Jameson, 16 April 2020

... than production, circulation rather than industry. The question has literary implications as well. Godard once remarked (in Passion) that, bodily and material as they were, neither sex nor labour could really be represented. A little prestidigitation is required. The struggles of the Odyssey were set down to the ill will of a god. In The Shadow-Line, Burns in ...

Promenade Dora-Bruder

Adam Shatz: Patrick Modiano, 22 September 2016

So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighbourhood 
by Patrick Modiano, translated by Euan Cameron.
MacLehose, 160 pp., £8.99, September 2016, 978 0 85705 499 9
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... by LSD and hedonism. Paris’s leading artists and intellectuals praise the camp; Jean-Luc Godard offers to shoot a collaborationist film. The title of the story, ‘I Am a Young Man Alone’, expressed its author’s predicament. Two decades after the end of the war, at the height of its trente glorieuses, France had moved on, but Modiano, the son of ...

Always There

Julian Barnes: George Braque, 15 December 2005

Georges Braque: A Life 
by Alex Danchev.
Hamish Hamilton, 440 pp., £35, May 2005, 0 241 14078 1
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Landscape in Provence 1750-1920 
Montréal Musée des Beaux ArtsShow More
Derain: The London Paintings 
Courtauld InstituteShow More
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... category or the ‘Dufayel’ category (Dufayel being a department store which sold imitation Henri II sideboards). The latter seems to have been rather more a term of praise. ‘They want art,’ Picasso was to lament in later days. ‘One has to know how to be vulgar.’ The joyful, improvisatory side of Cubism is more evident in Picasso’s work than ...

Fly in the Soup

Paul Henley: Anthropology and cinema, 21 June 2001

Anthropologie et cinéma: Passage à l'image, passage par l'image 
by Marc Henri Piault.
Nathan, frs 139, April 2000, 2 09 190790 1
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Transcultural Cinema 
by David MacDougall.
Princeton, 328 pp., £11.95, December 1998, 0 691 01234 2
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... had a formative influence on the leading figures of the Nouvelle Vague such as Truffaut and Godard. In 1960, he himself conducted Chronicle of a Summer, an investigation into the ‘Parisian tribe’, along with the sociologist Edgar Morin. In one of the opening sequences Rouch on camera describes the film as an exercise in cinéma vérité. This was a ...


Perry Anderson: The Fall of France, 2 September 2004

La France qui tombe 
by Nicolas Baverez.
Perrin, 134 pp., €5.50, January 2004, 2 262 02163 5
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La Face cachée du ‘Monde’: Du contre-pouvoir aux abus de pouvoir 
by Pierre Péan and Philippe Cohen.
Mille et Une Nuits, 631 pp., €24, February 2003, 2 84205 756 2
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... film as the art that has taken the place of the novel as the dominant narrative form of the age, Godard might be seen as the contemporary equivalent of the great French writers of the past, producing one tour de force after another – Le Mépris, Bande à part, Une femme mariée, Pierrot le fou, Deux ou trois choses, La Chinoise, Weekend punctuating the ...

Nothing he hasn’t done, nowhere he hasn’t been

Adam Shatz: Claude Lanzmann, 5 April 2012

The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir 
by Claude Lanzmann, translated by Frank Wynne.
Atlantic, 528 pp., £25, March 2012, 978 1 84887 360 5
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... without archival footage, newsreels or a single corpse. Lanzmann ‘showed nothing at all’, Godard complained. That was because there was nothing to show: the Nazis had gone to great lengths to conceal the extermination; for all their scrupulous record-keeping, they left behind no photographs of death in the gas chambers of Birkenau or the gas trucks in ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter, 3 November 2016

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... inevitably, by my early marriage as soon as I finally bumped into somebody who would go to Godard movies with me and on CND marches and even have sexual intercourse with me, although he insisted we should be engaged first.’ And so Angela married Paul Carter, an industrial chemist and weekend beatnik, and moved with him to Bristol in 1961. She applied ...

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