French Books USA: Week in Review
From Page to Screen and Back
Few writers have had as much impact on the development of cinematic storytelling as Guy de Maupassant, whose tightly woven pieces balanced tension, characterization, sex, and intrigue with a certain ambiguity that captured directorial minds from John Ford to Orson Welles and Jean-Luc Godard. Richard Brody of The New Yorker examines Maupassant's legacy and influence in the presence of a newly translated edition of his works, The Necklace and Other Stories: Maupassant for Modern Times.
Mapping the Territory
Balzac could write exposition about a table for four pages. Robbe-Grillet made his name describing things to death. Beckett, on the other hand, didn't care much for scene specifics. Ever wanted to visualize the settings of your favorite books? Andrew DeGraff's got you covered with Plotted: A Literary Atlas. In his cartography of literature, DeGraff visualizes narrative landscapes across the canon, with a sparse Waiting for Godot map that includes Vladimir and Estragon "represented by two anthropomorphized speech bubbles with arrows signifying Pozzo and Lucky circling around them; the rest is a blackish orange, with suggestive white shapes on the other side, just popping into frame, to hint at the world going on just beyond these two hapless men."
Académie Française Goes Dutch
For its 100th year, the Grand prix du roman de l'Académie française split its distinction between Boualem Sansal and Hédi Kaddour. This is the first time two authors have shared the prestigious award since François Taillandier and Amélie Nothomb split the bill in 1999. As a packed awards season rolls on, the final selections for the Prix Médicis were announced this week, along with the surprising finalists for the Goncourt and Renaudot prizes.
Of the People and City
Luc Sante tells The Paris Review that the flâneur rearranges the city more honestly than any urban planner. His newest book, The Other Paris details, well, just that: the other Paris. Not the city of monuments and boutiques and lines at the Louvre, but "(...) the crime, grime, and scrappy, world-reverberating insubordination of Parisians down through history. Sante’s Other Paris is the one that belongs to le Peuple and always has—to the prostitutes, the ragpickers, the laundresses, the pickpockets, the North Africans, Roma, and Jews, the pop singers and tattooed gang members (the Apaches, many of whom “had a dotted line around their necks, to guide the blade of the guillotine”), the insurgents on the barricades and the Illegalist bomb throwers, the ones who got their heads cut off and the ones who physically did the cutting."
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