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 'After the Circus' by Patrick Modiano

May 2016, no. 381 26 April 2016
Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'After the Circus' by Patrick Modiano
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 romance, part identity quest, part cri ... (read more)

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

April 2016, no. 380 30 March 2016
Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People' by Sudhir Hazareesingh
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 glories, anxious for its future, and ... (read more)

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

December 2015, no. 377 30 November 2015
Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'The Cambridge Introduction to French Literature' by Brian Nelson
'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 nine hundred years of textual production. It is a v ... (read more)

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

June-July 2015, no. 372 28 May 2015
Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Suspended Sentences' by Patrick Modiano translated by Mark Polizzotti
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 titles, which is gratifying for those familiar with the work of a man ranked as one of France’s great writers for over forty years. It is especially pleas ... (read more)

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Chasing Lost Time' by Jean Findlay

May 2015, no. 371 30 April 2015
Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Chasing Lost Time' by Jean Findlay
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 multiplicity of authentic documents ... (read more)

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe' by Matthew Pratt Guterl

October 2014, no. 365 01 October 2014
Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe' by Matthew Pratt Guterl
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 her image also includes her work in th ... (read more)

Australian Journal of French Studies

November 2013, no. 356 31 October 2013
Australian Journal of French Studies
This number of the Australian Journal of French Studies has been superbly guest-edited by Sydney University’s Margaret Sankey, a world authority on French voyages of discovery in the southern hemisphere. In addition to her own work, there are contributions by several French and New Zealand colleagues. ... (read more)

Such wide skies

September 2013, no. 354 27 August 2013
Such wide skies
Kay Dreyfus was inspired to write about the Weintraubs Syncopators after seeing a German documentary at the Melbourne Jewish Film Festival in 2000. The film recounted the story of this interwar dance and variety band, which had earned fame in Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel (1930), and later used a European tour to escape from Hitler’s jazz- and Jew-hating régime. After a music-driven ad ... (read more)

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Algerian Chronicles' by Albert Camus

May 2013, no. 351 28 April 2013
Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Algerian Chronicles' by Albert Camus
On 13 May 1958 a French military junta seized power in Algiers. Choreographed by Jacques Soustelle, the French governor-general of Algeria, in a deliberate plan to bring down the French government, the putsch led to the return to power of Charles de Gaulle, the collapse of the Fourth Republic, and, after four more years of anguish and prolific bloodshed, the end of the colonial war that France had ... (read more)

2012 Calibre Prize (runner up): Now They've Gone

November 2012, no. 346 24 October 2012
An imperfectly remembered life is a useless treachery. Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna When my American mother-in-law died, the world financial markets went into a tail-spin. Melba was her name; her own mother, who migrated from Italy to New England in the late nineteenth century, was an operamane. I have often wondered about the flukey events that had me, a native of Helen Mitchell’s no-place-l ... (read more)
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