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Sartre

Pierre Bourdieu, 20 November 1980

... Sartre has undoubtedly dominated his generation and had no successor.’ This is the verdict on his work in a school text-book, a critical study of post-war French literature, published in the 1970s. It is not for the sociologist to agree or disagree with this verdict; he has to take it for what it is, i.e. an indisputable social fact, and to endeavour to account for it, to make it intelligible ...

Veni, Vidi, Vichy

Jean-Pierre Chapelas, 9 March 1995

Une Jeunesse française: François Mitterrand 1934-1947 
by Pierre Péan.
Fayard, 615 pp., frs 160, September 1994, 2 213 59300 0
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... he doesn’t appear to have objected to the idea of co-operating in this with the government of Pierre Laval, himself one of the most hardline figures in the Marshal’s four-year reign. Indeed, the idea seems at times to have aroused his enthusiasm, to judge by the private letters that he wrote in that year. (The refusal of the Mitterrandistes to allow ...

Love and Hate, Girl and Boy

Juliet Mitchell: Louise Bourgeois, 6 November 2014

... lived in Chelsea (New York). I hoped to find out about her relationship with her younger brother, Pierre. His presence pervaded her psychoanalytic notes, which I had examined, but I couldn’t see much trace of him in her art until the 1990s, more than thirty years after his death. The absence was striking. But something else was nagging at me. The catalogue ...

The Monster in the Milk Bowl

Richard Poirier, 3 October 1996

Pierre, or The Ambiguities 
by Herman Melville, edited by Hershel Parker.
HarperCollins, 449 pp., £15.99, May 1996, 0 06 118009 2
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... Melville began writing Pierre, or The Ambiguities in August 1851; he had just turned 33 and was already the author of six books. The most recent of these, Moby-Dick, was about to be published, and reviews of it, largely negative in the United States and somewhat less so in England, would begin appearing while he was working on the new novel and negotiating the terms for its publication ...

The Lie-World

James Wood: D.B.C. Pierre, 20 November 2003

Vernon God Little 
by D.B.C. Pierre.
Faber, 279 pp., £10.99, January 2003, 0 571 21642 0
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... prize-winners should not be blamed for prizes, any more than gnats for standing water, and D.B.C. Pierre’s novel is an engaging book, lively and sometimes scintillating. It is in some ways a remarkable first novel, and its achieved tone of adolescent desperation and rebellion suggests years of broken gestation. (Pierre is ...

Golden Horn

Malise Ruthven, 1 March 1984

Pierre Loti: Portrait of an Escapist 
by Lesley Blanch.
Collins, 330 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 00 211649 9
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... think much about it. Henry James is not the first writer to have been impressed yet baffled by Pierre Loti. Anatole France, who called him the ‘sublime illiterate’, believed that, of all their contemporaries, he was ‘the most sure to last’. To his peers Loti was a distinct oddity: an outsider who clung to his career as a Naval officer while living ...

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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... Les Quatre Cent Coups, about his thwarted childhood. The stubborn, hurt, exploring eyes of Jean-Pierre Léaud as ‘Antoine Doinel’, Truffaut’s alter ego, enlist us from the start in his rebellion. But then Truffaut takes an enormous risk. He makes four more films about ‘Doinel’, still using Léaud; and the appealing tough kid from a miserable ...

Surrealism à la Courbet

Nicholas Penny: Balthus, 24 May 2001

Balthus: Catalogue raisonné of the Complete Works 
by Jean Clair and Virginie Monnier.
Abrams, 576 pp., £140, January 2000, 0 8109 6394 9
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Balthus 
by Nicholas Fox Weber.
Weidenfeld, 650 pp., £30, May 2000, 0 297 64323 1
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... Balthus first attracted notice early in 1934 with a small exhibition at the Galerie Pierre in Paris. Several of the works he showed – The Street, The Window and Alice – seem as startling now as they must have done then. This Catalogue raisonné, published not long before the artist’s death earlier this year, enables us to determine the unremarkable ingredients that so surprisingly and so explosively combined to make these paintings possible ...

Wear and Tear

Anne Hollander, 6 February 1997

Yves St Laurent: A Biography 
by Alice Rawsthorn.
HarperCollins, 405 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 00 255543 3
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... half of Yves St Laurent the company, is the dynamic and powerful French business entrepreneur, Pierre Bergé. Nearly half of this biography is therefore rightly devoted to the life, struggles, feelings, fantasies, achievements and reputation of Bergé. The creation of YSL, the fusion of man and company, could not have occurred and still could not survive ...

Touchez-pas à mon de Gaulle

Douglas Johnson, 19 February 1987

De Gaulle. Vol III: Le Souverain 
by Jean Lacouture.
Seuil, 870 pp., frs 145, August 1984, 2 02 006969 5
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... unsuccessful adventure of the Rassemblement du Peuple Français, men such as Geoffroy de Courcel, Pierre Lefranc, Jacques Foccart or François Flohic. The Fifth Republic was not to be a resuscitation of the headquarters of Carlton Gardens or the Rue de Solférino, however. De Gaulle surrounded himself with what were for him new men, some of them products of ...

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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... In August​ 1943, Jean-Pierre Grumbach, a former soldier in the 71st artillery regiment in Fontainebleau, arrived in London. Grumbach, an Alsatian Jew from Paris, 25 years old, wanted to offer his services to the Forces Françaises Combattantes (FFC) – de Gaulle’s Free French. His journey had begun seven months earlier in Marseille, where he had distributed pamphlets for the Resistance under cover of his work in the textile trade ...

May ’88

Douglas Johnson, 21 April 1988

Les Sept Mitterrand 
by Catherine Nay.
Grasset, 286 pp., frs 96, September 1988, 2 246 36291 1
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France Today 
by John Ardagh.
Secker, 647 pp., £22.50, October 1987, 0 436 01746 6
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Jacques Chirac 
by Franz-Oliver Giesbert.
Seuil, 455 pp., frs 125, April 1987, 2 02 009771 0
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Monsieur Barre 
by Henri Amouroux.
Laffont, 584 pp., frs 125, June 1986, 2 221 04954 3
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The Workers’ Movement 
by Alain Touraine, Michel Wieviorka and François Dubet, translated by Ian Patterson.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 322 pp., £35, October 1987, 0 521 30852 6
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The State and the Market Economy: Industrial Patriotism and Economic Intervention in France 
by Jack Hayward.
Wheatsheaf, 267 pp., £32.50, December 1985, 0 7450 0012 6
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France under Recession 1981-86 
by John Tuppen.
Macmillan, 280 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 333 39889 0
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... chez nous, en Aquitaine, en Rhône – Alpes, en Bretagne, en Alsace). Within a few months Pierre Mauroy, a more emotional and traditional socialist, determined to attack unemployment and to revive those areas of the country which were economically depressed (especially around his own fief of Lille), was replaced as prime minister by the young and ...

The Red Cupboard

Vicki Feaver, 20 April 1995

... After Pierre Bonnard The woman’s cupboard, she’s stocked with jellies, chutneys, pickled limes and bottles of blue-skinned plums that just to look at is to taste their sweet green flesh. Inset in the wall, the inside’s painted the red of petals – poppies, geraniums – of dream blood. When she opens the white door it’s like opening herself ...

Men’s Honour, Women’s Lives

Peter Burke, 6 March 1986

Trial by Impotence: Virility and Marriage in Pre-Revolutionary France 
by Pierre Darmon, translated by Paul Keegan.
Chatto, 234 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 9780701129149
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The Boundaries of Eros: Sex, Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice 
by Guido Ruggiero.
Oxford, 223 pp., £25, March 1985, 0 19 503465 1
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The Tuscans and their Families: A Study of the Florentine Catasto of 1427 
by David Herlihy and Christiane Klapisch-Zuber.
Yale, 404 pp., £32, March 1985, 0 300 03056 8
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Women, Family and Ritual in Renaissance Italy 
by Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, translated by Lydia Cochrane.
Chicago, 338 pp., £25.50, September 1985, 0 226 43925 9
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French Women in the Age of Enlightenment 
edited by Samia Spencer.
Indiana, 429 pp., $35, November 1984, 0 253 32481 5
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... such reasons, including force, error, insanity, homosexuality, and also impotence, the subject of Pierre Darmon’s study, published in French in 1979 and now available in English translation. Darmon’s book, written with passion in a rather heavy Gallic rhetoric somewhat difficult to turn into fluent English, is at once a history of an institution of the ...

De Gaulle’s Debt

Patrice Higonnet: Moulin, the French martyr, 4 December 2003

Jean Moulin: Le politique, le rebelle, le résistant 
by Jean-Pierre Azéma.
Perrin, 507 pp., €24, April 2003, 2 262 01329 2
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... he became the youngest prefect in France, but was not, I suspect, as pleasant a young man as Jean-Pierre Azéma makes him out to be in this excellent biography. In the late 1930s he became a friend and client of Pierre Cot, the rather dubious Popular Front Air Minister, whose help was spurned by de Gaulle in 1940. The ...

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