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Pierre Bourdieu, 20 November 1980

... Sartre has undoubtedly dominated his generation and had no successor.’ This is the verdict on his work in a school text-book, a critical study of post-war French literature, published in the 1970s. It is not for the sociologist to agree or disagree with this verdict; he has to take it for what it is, i.e. an indisputable social fact, and to endeavour to account for it, to make it intelligible ...

Veni, Vidi, Vichy

Jean-Pierre Chapelas, 9 March 1995

Une Jeunesse française: François Mitterrand 1934-1947 
by Pierre Péan.
Fayard, 615 pp., frs 160, September 1994, 2 213 59300 0
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... he doesn’t appear to have objected to the idea of co-operating in this with the government of Pierre Laval, himself one of the most hardline figures in the Marshal’s four-year reign. Indeed, the idea seems at times to have aroused his enthusiasm, to judge by the private letters that he wrote in that year. (The refusal of the Mitterrandistes to allow ...

The Monster in the Milk Bowl

Richard Poirier, 3 October 1996

Pierre, or The Ambiguities 
by Herman Melville, edited by Hershel Parker.
HarperCollins, 449 pp., £15.99, May 1996, 0 06 118009 2
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... Melville began writing Pierre, or The Ambiguities in August 1851; he had just turned 33 and was already the author of six books. The most recent of these, Moby-Dick, was about to be published, and reviews of it, largely negative in the United States and somewhat less so in England, would begin appearing while he was working on the new novel and negotiating the terms for its publication ...

Love and Hate, Girl and Boy

Juliet Mitchell: Louise Bourgeois, 6 November 2014

... lived in Chelsea (New York). I hoped to find out about her relationship with her younger brother, Pierre. His presence pervaded her psychoanalytic notes, which I had examined, but I couldn’t see much trace of him in her art until the 1990s, more than thirty years after his death. The absence was striking. But something else was nagging at me. The catalogue ...

The Lie-World

James Wood: D.B.C. Pierre, 20 November 2003

Vernon God Little 
by D.B.C. Pierre.
Faber, 279 pp., £10.99, January 2003, 0 571 21642 0
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... prize-winners should not be blamed for prizes, any more than gnats for standing water, and D.B.C. Pierre’s novel is an engaging book, lively and sometimes scintillating. It is in some ways a remarkable first novel, and its achieved tone of adolescent desperation and rebellion suggests years of broken gestation. (Pierre is ...

Golden Horn

Malise Ruthven, 1 March 1984

Pierre Loti: Portrait of an Escapist 
by Lesley Blanch.
Collins, 330 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 00 211649 9
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... think much about it. Henry James is not the first writer to have been impressed yet baffled by Pierre Loti. Anatole France, who called him the ‘sublime illiterate’, believed that, of all their contemporaries, he was ‘the most sure to last’. To his peers Loti was a distinct oddity: an outsider who clung to his career as a Naval officer while living ...

Traffaut’s Heroes

Richard Mayne, 4 September 1980

The Films in My Life 
by François Truffaut, translated by Leonard Mayhew.
Allen Lane, 358 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 7139 1322 3
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... Les Quatre Cent Coups, about his thwarted childhood. The stubborn, hurt, exploring eyes of Jean-Pierre Léaud as ‘Antoine Doinel’, Truffaut’s alter ego, enlist us from the start in his rebellion. But then Truffaut takes an enormous risk. He makes four more films about ‘Doinel’, still using Léaud; and the appealing tough kid from a miserable ...

Surrealism à la Courbet

Nicholas Penny: Balthus, 24 May 2001

Balthus: Catalogue raisonné of the Complete Works 
by Jean Clair and Virginie Monnier.
Abrams, 576 pp., £140, January 2000, 0 8109 6394 9
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by Nicholas Fox Weber.
Weidenfeld, 650 pp., £30, May 2000, 0 297 64323 1
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... Balthus first attracted notice early in 1934 with a small exhibition at the Galerie Pierre in Paris. Several of the works he showed – The Street, The Window and Alice – seem as startling now as they must have done then. This Catalogue raisonné, published not long before the artist’s death earlier this year, enables us to determine the unremarkable ingredients that so surprisingly and so explosively combined to make these paintings possible ...

The Red Cupboard

Vicki Feaver, 20 April 1995

... After Pierre Bonnard The woman’s cupboard, she’s stocked with jellies, chutneys, pickled limes and bottles of blue-skinned plums that just to look at is to taste their sweet green flesh. Inset in the wall, the inside’s painted the red of petals – poppies, geraniums – of dream blood. When she opens the white door it’s like opening herself ...

May ’88

Douglas Johnson, 21 April 1988

Les Sept Mitterrand 
by Catherine Nay.
Grasset, 286 pp., frs 96, September 1988, 2 246 36291 1
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France Today 
by John Ardagh.
Secker, 647 pp., £22.50, October 1987, 0 436 01746 6
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Jacques Chirac 
by Franz-Oliver Giesbert.
Seuil, 455 pp., frs 125, April 1987, 2 02 009771 0
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Monsieur Barre 
by Henri Amouroux.
Laffont, 584 pp., frs 125, June 1986, 2 221 04954 3
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The Workers’ Movement 
by Alain Touraine, Michel Wieviorka and François Dubet, translated by Ian Patterson.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 322 pp., £35, October 1987, 0 521 30852 6
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The State and the Market Economy: Industrial Patriotism and Economic Intervention in France 
by Jack Hayward.
Wheatsheaf, 267 pp., £32.50, December 1985, 0 7450 0012 6
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France under Recession 1981-86 
by John Tuppen.
Macmillan, 280 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 333 39889 0
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... chez nous, en Aquitaine, en Rhône – Alpes, en Bretagne, en Alsace). Within a few months Pierre Mauroy, a more emotional and traditional socialist, determined to attack unemployment and to revive those areas of the country which were economically depressed (especially around his own fief of Lille), was replaced as prime minister by the young and ...

Touchez-pas à mon de Gaulle

Douglas Johnson, 19 February 1987

De Gaulle. Vol III: Le Souverain 
by Jean Lacouture.
Seuil, 870 pp., frs 145, August 1984, 2 02 006969 5
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... unsuccessful adventure of the Rassemblement du Peuple Français, men such as Geoffroy de Courcel, Pierre Lefranc, Jacques Foccart or François Flohic. The Fifth Republic was not to be a resuscitation of the headquarters of Carlton Gardens or the Rue de Solférino, however. De Gaulle surrounded himself with what were for him new men, some of them products of ...

Absolute Modernity

Paul Driver, 26 September 1991

Gabriel Fauré: A Musical Life 
by Jean-Michel Nectoux, translated by Roger Nichols.
Cambridge, 646 pp., £45, April 1991, 0 521 23524 3
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Pierre Boulez 
by Dominique Jameux, translated by Susan Bradshaw.
Faber, 422 pp., £25, March 1991, 9780571137442
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Stocktakings from an Apprenticeship 
by Pierre Boulez, translated by Stephen Walsh.
Oxford, 316 pp., £40, August 1991, 0 19 311210 8
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... mentioned have matured into a style informed by a concept of modal tonality), and from Messiaen to Pierre Boulez – whose orchestral Rituel in memoriam Maderna (1974) rescinds ‘total serialism’ and plumps (as Dominique Jameux explains) for a seven-note mode. To set beside this image of ‘Fauré the progressive’ (to adapt another Schoenbergian ...

Who invented Vercingétorix?

Julian Jackson: French national identity, 27 June 2002

Rethinking France: Les Lieux de mémoire. Volume I: The State 
by Pierre Nora, translated by Mary Trouille.
Chicago, 475 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 226 59132 8
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... kind of positivist and exclusively political history. Almost a century later, the seven volumes of Pierre Nora’s Lieux de mémoire, of which this is the latest to be translated, stand comparison with Lavisse at least in ambition and scope. Sumptuously produced and copiously illustrated, they contain 130 articles by the most distinguished contemporary ...

Wear and Tear

Anne Hollander, 6 February 1997

Yves St Laurent: A Biography 
by Alice Rawsthorn.
HarperCollins, 405 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 00 255543 3
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... half of Yves St Laurent the company, is the dynamic and powerful French business entrepreneur, Pierre Bergé. Nearly half of this biography is therefore rightly devoted to the life, struggles, feelings, fantasies, achievements and reputation of Bergé. The creation of YSL, the fusion of man and company, could not have occurred and still could not survive ...


Robin Blackburn: In Haiti, 8 October 2009

... international standards of human rights. The conference was opened by the prime minister, Michele Pierre-Louis, who was appointed despite a scurrilous campaign by opposition forces, who argued that appointing a lesbian to such a prominent position was a violation of Haitian manhood. Pierre-Louis had been the director of an ...

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