March 31, 2005

"La republique des livres"

That's the title of the new blog for Le Monde by Pierre Assouline. The former editorial director of the monthly magazine Lire, Assouline is the author of some 15 books. I've appreciated his work for years, particularly the numerous books and articles he's devoted to the period of collaboration in Petainist France in 1940-45--no one has better chronicled the collaboration by literary figures, and several of his books are gems of investigative history. His magistral biography of the publisher Gaston Gallimard--which is chock full of insights into the politico-literary world, including the collaborationist period--has been translated into English, as has his revelatory bio of Georges Simenon. Unfortunately, some of his equally worthy books -- for example, his bios of the great journalist Albert Londres, and of Jean Jardin--the Petain regime's eminence grise and the chief of staff to collaborationist prime minister Pierre Laval--or his "L'epuration des intellectuels" (The purge of the intellectuals) have not made it across the Atlantic.. His latest book, Lutetia, published a couple of months ago, is a novel that tells the story of the Hotel Lutetia before, during, and after the war--it was the Paris headquarters of the Gestapo, and after the collapse of Nazi Germany served as the way-station for those returning from the concentration camps. Assouline has said he chose the novel form because it allowed him more freedom to tell this piquant story, but in preparing it he applied the same rigorous standards of research that have made him an eminently reliable investigative historian and biographer.

Assouline's blog gives his sharp-eyed, personal look at some of the latest and most interesting new and reissued books in French publishing--and since he frequently is interested in many of the same things I am, it's not only useful but a pleasurable read. You can check it out by clicking here.

Posted by Direland at 01:03 AM | Permalink


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are you a Francophile? Just linked to your blog from LA Weekly - looks good to me! Have unfortunately forgotten lots of French words but can still read most books and papers and make myself understood in France.
Helga from Australia

Posted by: Helga Fremlin | Apr 13, 2005 1:34:01 AM

Thanks for the pointer, Direland. Here's a question: I visited Michel Onfray's site and checked online catalogues, and found that not one of his books has been translated into English yet! We're about 10 years behind with him; why do you think that is? The work looks fascinating. I got my library to order several of the books since they only had one of the first, which I'm reading now. Do you know of any plans by anyone to translate his work?

Posted by: John_K | Apr 3, 2005 8:50:42 PM

Hey, Steve, why didn't you tell me it was written in French?

That's one language I just haven't mastered yet.

Posted by: Jon Koppenhoefer | Apr 1, 2005 5:13:43 AM

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