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Regrets

Michael Wood, 17 December 1992

The Art of Cinema 
by Jean Cocteau, André Bernard and Claude Gauteur, translated by Robin Buss.
Marion Boyars, 224 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 7145 2947 8
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Jean Renoir: A Life in Pictures 
by Célia Bertin, translated by Mireille Muellner and Leonard Muellner.
Johns Hopkins, 403 pp., £20.50, August 1991, 0 8018 4184 4
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Jean Renoir: Projections of Paradise 
by Ronald Bergan.
Bloomsbury, 378 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 7475 0837 2
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Malle on Malle 
edited by Philip French.
Faber, 236 pp., £14.99, January 1993, 0 571 16237 1
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Republic of Images: A History of French Film-Making 
by Alan Williams.
Harvard, 458 pp., £39.95, April 1992, 0 674 76267 3
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... The pale child gives a faint wave of his hand. He is saying goodbye to his Jewish friend, about to be taken from school to die in Auschwitz, but there is also a whole history of helplessness in the gesture: not only the boy’s but that of his class and time and culture and place. The gesture occurs at the end of Louis Malle’s Au revoir les enfants, 1987 – the year of the story is 1944 – but it has echoes and relatives everywhere in French films since the war, and in French fiction of the same period ...

A Passion for Pears

John Sturrock, 7 July 1994

Balzac 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 521 pp., £20, June 1994, 0 330 33237 6
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Honoré de Balzac 
by Roger Pierrot.
Fayard, 582 pp., frs 180, March 1994, 2 213 59228 4
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César Birotteau 
by Honoré de Balzac and Robin Buss.
Penguin, 279 pp., £6.99, January 1994, 0 14 044641 9
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... If Balzac had had his way, the real Paris would have become a little more like the visionary Paris of his novels. He thought a spiral staircase should be built, leading down from the Luxembourg Gardens into the catacombs, whose verminous labyrinth stretched from there indiscriminately beneath the plush hôtels of the Faubourg Saint-Germain and the slums of the Faubourg Saint-Marceau ...

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