French Books USA: Week in Review

July 30, 2015 | By Arian Murati
Samuel Beckett

The Sun Shone... on the Something New

As the Happy Days International Beckett Festival continues in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland,  James Knowlson recalls the Irish writer's extraordinary activities as part of a British special operations unit in Paris during World War II. Among the recently uncovered documents are remarkable stories of treachery, betrayal, and debriefings connecting Beckett to some of the most well-known and dangerous spies of the war. As for the festival, an array of performances, readings, stage productions, and musical interludes make up a fitting celebration of Beckett's tremendous output.


French and British Continue Tsundere Relationship

Many, if not most public philosophical disagreements between recent British and French philosophers stem from the done-to-death analytic vs. continental binary of the past century or so. From Russell and Wittgenstein to Foucault and Baudrillard and beyond, the 20th century gave rise to some of the most intense examinations of thought from either side of the channel. Today, however, Sudhir Hazareesingh wonders why the Left Bank exports trinkets and keychains rather than radicalism in a world where English is the lingua franca and the Académie Française wants to ban franglais words like conf call and chambre single.


Simone de Beauvoir Meets the Listicle

The "flattening" of culture is a concept that undergoes great exploration by many postwar/modern thinkers, most notably by the affiliate writers who made up the Frankfurt School. Marcuse warned of a world in which one-dimensional people consumed without thought. Walter Benjamin posited that proliferated reproduction rendered art facile and prone to manipulation. Adorno and Horkheimer, for their part, reasoned that the culture industry leads us to believe that even our most emotional needs can be resolved economically. With this in mind, if you like your Simone de Beauvoir like you like your BuzzFeed articles, the Huffington Post earlier this week posted an article that was half relationship advice, half Ethics of Ambiguity.


Turbulence

While we're on the subject of the listicle, British Airways and Livres Hebdo have compiled a list of the ten books that are most often left behind on airplanes. Mentioned are some of the usual bestseller paperbacks, but also some rather unexpected titles, with Le capital au XXIème siècle by Thomas Piketty at number five and Eleanor Catton's Les luminaires also on the list. Meanwhile, at the festival d'Avignon, le Parisien has rated  "les tops et les flops" from this year's performances.


French Children's Books in Kirkus

Along with their weekly recommendations, Kirkus Reviews features an article by Julie Danielson on three French children's books which will see release in the U.S. over the coming months. Marianne Dubuc's Mr. Postmouse's Rounds and Olivier Tallec’s Louis I: King of the Sheep and Who Done It? (in stores in August, September, and October, respectively) are all given high praise, with Danielson offering sneak peeks at some fantastic illustration work (both authors did their own artwork). Tallec is published in the U.S. by Enchanted Lion Books with translation by Claudia Zoe Bedrick and Dubuc by Kids Can Press.


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