Colin Nettelbeck

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'A History of Modern French Literature: From the sixteenth century to the twentieth century' edited by Christopher Prendergast

Colin Nettelbeck
30 August 2017

On the acknowledgments page of this vast compendium, Christopher Prendergast describes the creation of the work as an ‘arduous task’ and the book itself as an ‘unwieldy vessel’. One can sympathise with the difficulty of presenting as a history of five centuries of French literature what would more accurately be described as a chronological anthology of essay ... More

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'The Némirovsky Question: The life, death and legacy of a Jewish writer in 20th century France' by Susan Rubin Suleiman

Colin Nettelbeck
27 April 2017

When Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française appeared in 2004, it was a huge success, in France and throughout the English-speaking world as well ...

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Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Les Parisiennes: How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died in the 1940s' by Anne Sebba

Colin Nettelbeck
30 March 2017

The eminent French historian Annette Wieviorka, in The Era of the Witness (1998, English version in 2006), analyses the difficulties arising, in writing historical narratives about recent times, from the exponential growth in the number of people wanting their stories to be heard. Wieviorka, whose field of specialisation is the Shoah, traces the trend of wh ... More

'Letter from Paris' by Colin Nettelbeck

Colin Nettelbeck
23 May 2016

After the horrific massacres in Paris and the ensuing ones in Belgium that were purportedly intended for France, the French were spontaneously drawn together ...

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Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'After the Circus' by Patrick Modiano

Colin Nettelbeck
26 April 2016

In early 1960s Paris, an eighteen-year-old who is keeping up his student enrolment to delay compulsory military service is questioned by the police because his name has been found in an address book. At the same time, a slightly older young woman is also being interrogated. The boy contrives to meet her afterwards in a café. Thus begins a story which is part romanc ... More

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People' by Sudhir Hazareesingh

Colin Nettelbeck
30 March 2016

Have the French thought themselves to death? This is the question that Sudhir Hazareesingh poses in this erudite and stimulating book. His concluding chapter is a piece of diplomatic fence-sitting, but, notwithstanding the claim of the subtitle's affection, much of the analysis points to a national culture in terminal decline, inward-looking, nostalgic for past glor ... More

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'The Cambridge Introduction to French Literature' by Brian Nelson

Colin Nettelbeck
30 November 2015

'It is hard to imagine a more challenging scholarly task than composing, in under three hundred pages, an introduction to a field as vast and variegated as French literature. From the fabliaux, mystery plays and chansons de geste of medieval times to such figures as the present-day Nobel Prize-winning novelists Le Clézio and Modiano, it embraces n ... More

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Suspended Sentences' by Patrick Modiano translated by Mark Polizzotti

Colin Nettelbeck
28 May 2015

Outside academia, Patrick Modiano was virtually unknown in the English-speaking world before the announcement of his Nobel Prize in October 2014. Since then, no fewer than seven different US publishers have joined the race to bring out Modiano t ... More

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Chasing Lost Time' by Jean Findlay

Colin Nettelbeck
30 April 2015

Jean Findlay had access to an impressive array of sources when writing this biography of her great-great uncle. She does not always make the best choices in navigating the mass of material: too many pages are cluttered with unsifted detail, and the family history genre often interferes with the biographical project of a significant public figure. However, the multip ... More

Colin Nettelbeck on 'Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe'

Colin Nettelbeck
25 September 2014

When Josephine Baker died in Paris in April 1975, it was almost fifty years since her sensational triumph in that city in 1925 as the star of La Revue Nègre. Her legendary status in France today remains linked to her emblematic role in the extraordinary unleashing of emotion and sensuality that came with the French Jazz Age and its upheaval of tradition. But ... More

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