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Colin Nettelbeck

Colin Nettelbeck is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Melbourne, where he held the A.R. Chisholm Chair of French. He taught previously at the University of California (Berkeley) and Monash University. He has written extensively about twentieth-century and contemporary French literature, cinema, and cultural history, with special focus on the French experience of World War II. His most recent book is Dancing with de Beauvoir: Jazz and the French, published by Melbourne University Press in 2004. His essay ‘Kneecapper: a Trip to Happiness’ (published in the Autumn 2011 Meanjin Quarterly) was shortlisted for the 2010 Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay. He was awarded second prize in the 2012 Calibre Prize for ‘Now They’ve Gone’.

Colin Nettelbeck reviews ‘The American Enemy: The history of French anti-Americanism’ by Philippe Roger

August 2005, no. 273 01 August 2005
As an eyewitness to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in September 2001, Philippe Roger was sickened when the America-hating Jean Baudrillard announced his ‘prodigious jubilation’ at the event. Sickened, but not surprised. Roger understood that Baudrillard’s crassness was rooted in a long French tradition of anti-American discourse. ... (read more)

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'With Stendhal' by Simon Leys

June 2010, issue no. 322 01 June 2010
As Stendhal did with The Red and the Black (1830) and The Charterhouse of Parma (1839), Simon Leys dedicates his With Stendhal to ‘the happy few’. In both cases, humility is the motivation, rather than affectation or coyness. Henri Beyle (1783–1842) – Stendhal’s real name – was committed to his writing, but he really had no idea that his novels would become masterworks of Western liter ... (read more)

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family and Fatherland' by Carmen Callil

May 2006, no. 281 01 May 2006
In 1978 the French weekly L’Express published an interview that sent a shockwave through the French collective conscience. The subject was Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the wartime Vichy government’s Commissioner for Jewish Affairs. Having escaped at the end of the war to the safe haven of Franco’s Spain, he was now an octogenarian, enjoying some prestige as the official translator of the Cau ... (read more)

Colin Nettelbeck reviews two journals

December 2007–January 2008, no. 297 01 December 2007
The first two numbers of the Australian Journal of French Studies (AJFS) (Vol. XLIV, No. 1, 2007 and Vol. XLIV, No. 2, 2007, edited by Brian Nelson and Françoise Grauby, $25 pb, 83 pp and 99 pp) for 2007 reflect a long-standing policy of mixing miscellaneous collections of essays with numbers focused on a specific theme. In this instance, No. 1 offers six pieces on a variety of subjects, which pr ... (read more)

Colin Nettelbeck reviews: 'Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge' by Jean-Noël Jeanneney (tran. Teresa Lavender Fagan)

March 2007, no. 289 01 March 2007
France’s hypersensitivity about its culture is not infrequently derided, but it produces a salutary vigilance for which we can all be grateful. Such has been the case with the French-led defence of cultural specificities in the various ‘free trade’ meetings (GATT and WTO) of the past two decades. And such is this book by Jean-Noël Jeanneney. Deceptively slight in size – Jeanneney himself ... (read more)

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'David Golder' by Irène Némirovsky and 'Irène Némirovsky: Her life and works' by Jonathan Weiss

June 2007, no. 292 01 June 2007
When Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française was first published in France in 2004, it created extraordinary interest for at least three reasons. Firstly, there was the story of the survival of the manuscript, preserved in an unopened suitcase for almost sixty years by Némirovsky’s daughters, Elisabeth and Denise, who had assumed that the papers in their possession were personal notes that woul ... (read more)

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Australian Journal of French Studies, Vol. XLVII, NO. 2: Jacques Rivette' edited by Brian Nelson

October 2010, no. 325 01 October 2010
The Australian Journal of French Studies special number on Jacques Rivette continues the journal’s tradition of ground-breaking scholarship. Rivette has long been acknowledged as both an important and enigmatic film director – in some respects even more challenging than his New Wave colleague, Jean-Luc Godard. Rivette’s work is notoriously difficult of access. Almost all his films are unconv ... (read more)

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Human Rights In Crisis: The sacred and the secular in contemporary French thought' by Geneviève Souillac

October 2006, no. 285 01 October 2006
It is hard to imagine that any reader of the text of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights would be unmoved by the nobility of its aspirations. Born of the determination that human beings would never again have to suffer the oppressions and indignities that reached so hideous a climax in the events of World War II, it promises a world in which all people can enjoy a range o ... (read more)

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Chis: The life and work of Alan Rowland Chisholm (1888–1981)' by Stanley John Scott

March 2020, no. 419 24 February 2020
In his lifetime, Alan Rowland Chisholm was widely regarded as an Australian national treasure, and the new biography by Stanley John Scott is compelling evidence that he deserves to remain recognised as one today. This is a book that might have languished as an unpublished typescript, or indeed simply disappeared. Its author died in 2014, having twice withheld it from publication. The first time ... (read more)

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Tête-À-Tête: The lives and loves of Simone De Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre' by Hazel Rowley

February 2006, no. 278 01 February 2006
Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir are both mythical figures. They are also a mythical couple, a symbol of lifelong intellectual and personal commitment to each other and to commonly espoused causes. Of the two, Beauvoir is probably the more widely read today, because of her foundational role in the development of feminism, and the relative accessibility of her writing. In comparison, Sartre ... (read more)
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