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Mon Charabia

Olivier Todd: Bad Duras, 4 March 1999

Marguerite Duras 
by Laure Adler.
Gallimard, 627 pp., frs 155, August 1998, 2 07 074523 6
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No More 
by Marguerite Duras.
Seven Stories, 203 pp., £10.99, November 1998, 1 888363 65 7
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... For twenty years or so – but particularly after she hit the jackpot with her Goncourt Prize and sold a million copies of her most conventional novel, The Lover (1984) – Marguerite Duras was a literary monster. Her personality and the legends about her have fascinated readers of everything from Elle to the Village Voice. Laure Adler’s biography, the best so far, proves that the required period of mourning is over ...

A Glass of Whisky in One Hand and Lenin in the Other

Olivier Todd: The end of French Algeria, 19 March 1998

The Memory of Resistance: French Opposition to the Algerian War (1954-62) 
by Martin Evans.
Berg, 250 pp., £34.99, November 1997, 9781859739273
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... In 1954 I was stationed near Versailles, doing my national service with the 93rd Infantry Regiment. I had been called up for 12 months, but like many young Frenchmen of that unlucky generation, I was kept in the Army nearly two and a half years owing to unforeseen ‘events’ in North Africa. We weren’t old enough to have joined either the Free French in Britain or the Resistance against the Nazis in France ...

La Grande Sartreuse

Douglas Johnson, 15 October 1981

Simone de Beauvoir and the Limits of Commitment 
by Anne Whitmarsh.
Cambridge, 212 pp., £14.50, June 1981, 9780521236690
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Un Fils Rebelle 
by Olivier Todd.
Grasset, 293 pp., £5.50, June 1981, 2 246 21231 6
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The Intellectual Resistance in Europe 
by James Wilkinson.
Harvard, 358 pp., £14, July 1981, 0 674 45775 7
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... truth. Curiously enough, it is not Anne Whitmarsh who rescues her from these charges so much as Olivier Todd, whose severe yet affectionate memoir, Un Fils Rebelle, describes his relations with Sartre without proposing any assessment of either Sartre or Simone de Beauvoir. Todd, who did not discover his own ...

Mediterranean Man

R.W. Johnson, 16 October 1997

Albert Camus: A Life 
by Olivier Todd, translated by Benjamin Ivry.
Chatto, 420 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 7011 6062 4
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... to be on speaking terms with Camus because of his ‘reactionary’ tendencies. The irony, as Olivier Todd points out, was that Camus had joined the Communist Party in 1935 because he felt it was a way of looking after the interests of his mother, an illiterate cleaning woman, and his uncle Etienne, a barrel-maker – his father, whom he’d never ...

The Man from Nowhere

John Sturrock: Burying André Malraux, 9 August 2001

André Malraux: Une Vie 
by Olivier Todd.
Gallimard, 694 pp., frs 175, April 2001, 2 07 074921 5
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... over so many years to take him at his own valuation, even though that was patently way too high. Olivier Todd has written a Life dense with facts and hard-headed almost to excess when it comes to exposing just how weirdly far Malraux could go in dressing up his own achievements. This is biography as mythicide, and mightily readable at that. We all know ...

Bonté Gracieuse!

Mary Beard: Astérix Redux, 21 February 2002

Asterix and the Actress 
by Albert Uderzo, translated by Anthea Bell.
Orion, 48 pp., £9.99, April 2001, 0 7528 4657 4
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... in the books’ sales, given that most child readers are dependent on adult purchasing power. As Olivier Todd once said, parents read Tintin after their children: they read Astérix before the children can get their hands on the books.Another crucial factor must be the history that Astérix both recalls and satirises. Just as 1066 and All That depends ...

Out of the Cage

Tom Nairn: Popping the bubble of American supremacy, 24 June 2004

After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order 
by Emmanuel Todd, translated by C. Jon Delogu.
Constable, 288 pp., £8.99, July 2004, 1 84529 058 5
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Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power 
by George Soros.
Weidenfeld, 207 pp., £12.99, January 2004, 0 297 84906 9
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... economism, and then (after 2001) by the storm-blast of a wounded American nationalism. Both Todd and Soros try to focus on more profound trends, and give different philosophical and anthropological explanations of what globalisation may really be about. Soros is a hero of the capitalist world, known especially in the 1990s for his activity in Central ...

Unmasking Monsieur Malraux

Richard Mayne, 25 June 1992

The Conquerors 
by André Malraux, translated by Stephen Becker.
Chicago, 198 pp., £8.75, December 1991, 0 226 50290 2
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The Temptation of the West 
by André Malraux, translated by Robert Hollander.
Chicago, 122 pp., £8.75, February 1992, 0 226 50291 0
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The Walnut Tree of Altenburg 
by André Malraux, translated by A.W. Fielding.
Chicago, 224 pp., £9.55, April 1992, 0 226 50289 9
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... vehement. ‘I cannot name one person, left, right, or centre,’ said the reporter and novelist Olivier Todd, ‘who was not really fascinated by the man,’ As if in confirmation, the Paris bookshops last December were displaying a crisp new volume in the austere Gallimard uniform, bearing a red publicity band with the single name MALRAUX in white ...


Douglas Johnson, 20 May 1982

La Cérémonie des Adieux 
by Simone de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 559 pp., £9.25, November 1981
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Mes Années Sartre 
by Georges Michel.
Hachette, 217 pp., £6.15
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Oeuvres Romanesques 
by Jean-Paul Sartre, edited by Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka.
Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 2174 pp., £22.50, January 1982
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... that gangrene was infectious stopped her doing so. But she does not hesitate to point out that Olivier Todd, who has written of his intimate relations with Sartre whilst roundly condemning Sartre’s influence, was never on such close terms with Sartre as he claimed. She says the same about Paul Victor, Sartre’s last collaborator, with whom he was ...


Elaine Showalter, 14 June 1990

Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography 
by Deirdre Bair.
Cape, 718 pp., £19.95, June 1990, 9780224020480
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Lettres à Sartre. Vol I: 1930-1939 
by Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 400 pp., frs 120, February 1990, 2 07 071829 8
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Lettres à Sartre. Vol II: 1940-1963 
by Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 443 pp., frs 120, February 1990, 2 07 071864 6
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Journal de Guerre, Septembre 1939-Janvier 1941 
by Simone de Beauvoir, edited by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 371 pp., February 1990, 2 07 071809 3
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In the Shadow of Sartre 
by Liliane Siegel, translated by Barbara Wright.
182 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 9780002153362
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... disgusting physical detail’. Deceptions were frequent despite their pact. According to Olivier Todd, Sartre readily admitted that he coped with his many women by lying to them. ‘ “You lie to them all?” inquired Todd. “To them all,” replied Sartre with a smile. “Even to Castor?” “Especially to ...

I am French

Jeremy Harding, 21 January 2016

Who is Charlie? Xenophobia and the New Middle Class 
by Emmanuel Todd, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 211 pp., £16.99, September 2015, 978 1 5095 0577 7
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... in 1995. Growing inequality is one of the central preoccupations in Who is Charlie?, Emmanuel Todd’s short, polemical book about what is and isn’t ‘equal’ about France, which parts of the country are historically disposed to egalitarian values while others aren’t, and how the trinity of liberty, equality, fraternity came to crumble in the middle ...

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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... or defending’.This article draws on three valuable sources in English: Albert Camus: A Life by Olivier Todd, translated by Benjamin Ivry (Chatto 1997), Camus & Sartre: the Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel that Ended it by Ronald Aronson (Chicago, 2004), and Algeria: France’s Undeclared War by Martin Evans (Oxford, 2011), a formidable successor ...

In Order of Rank

Jeremy Harding: Paris 1940, 8 May 2008

Fleeing Hitler: France 1940 
by Hanna Diamond.
Oxford, 255 pp., £16.99, June 2007, 978 0 19 280618 5
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Journal 1942-44 
by Hélène Berr.
Tallandier, 301 pp., €20, January 2008, 978 2 84734 500 1
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... including those quoted in Fleeing Hitler, caught the atmosphere well. But a short passage in Olivier Todd’s autobiography, Carte d’identités (2005), provides one of the best portraits of a mother and child taking to the road as the summer heat wave built. Todd’s mother had moved them from Paris to ...

Wait and See

Richard J. Evans: The French Resistance, 3 November 2016

The French Resistance 
by Olivier Wieviorka, translated by Jane Marie Todd.
Harvard, 569 pp., £31.95, April 2016, 978 0 674 73122 6
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... as a whole had triumphed against the Nazis and its puppet government in Vichy. The reality, as Olivier Wieviorka shows in this magisterial book, ably translated by Jane Marie Todd, was rather different. De Gaulle had not in fact called on the entire French population to rise up in 1940, but had tried to persuade officers ...

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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... line of Cahiers critics turned cinéastes that includes Luc Moullet, André Téchiné, Leos Carax, Olivier Assayas and, most recently, Mia Hansen-Løve, whose Father of My Children – a perceptive, melancholic drama set in the French film world – was released earlier this year. Truffaut’s article established Cahiers as a polemical journal, and cinema as a ...

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