Carolyn Burke: No Regrets

Sparrow on the Eiffel Tower

Colin Nettelbeck

 

No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf
by Carolyn Burke
Bloomsbury, $32.99 pb, 282 pp, 9781408819982

 

In the autumn of 1962, as a student in Paris, I went to watch Edith Piaf perform atop the Eiffel Tower. My memory is of being in a thick crowd at ground level, straining to see a tiny floodlit figure while a huge metallic voice resounded across the night sky: ‘Non, je ne regrette rien …’ In this new biography of Piaf, Carolyn Burke reminds us that this was a publicity event for the launch of Daryl Zanuck’s film about D-Day, The Longest Day. Piaf, at forty-six, her health ruined, had only a year to live, but still managed to overcome her frailty and her fear of heights to project her whole being into the iconic image that the world had of her.

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Published in September 2011 no. 334
Colin Nettelbeck

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’.

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